I wrote this article first for a friend who has a presentation to deliver to the CEO of a large Nigerian company, the presentation she delivers would determine the progress of decline her professional career takes. After I had delivered my message to educate her in the art of successful message delivery, I concluded the efficacy of the message was needed by everyone as her kind of situation is a repetitive occurrence in the professional sphere. Whether we accept it or not, we would sooner rather than later be in positions to deliver and communicate a topic to a group of individuals above our ranking, it could be your CEO, Investors, Consumers, Directors, political heads etc.
A good communicator takes cognizance of the approach, pattern and reception of their speech. Potential speakers should note the following points while developing their skill:
- Self-confidence at speaking
- Preparing for your speech
- Improving your memory
- Delivering your speech well
- Self-confidence at Speaking: this is the foundation of all good conversations and public speeches. There has to be a believe within you that no matter who sits before you it’s the same thing as discussing with your best friend, boyfriend, parents, siblings etc. All you need is a little believe in yourself and for you to build on it constantly. Whenever you’re speaking with an audience – no matter how large, remind yourself that you got this far because you’re more than good enough. If you weren’t you wouldn’t be there and that it can only get better for you from here.
- Preparing for your speech: asides from your self-confidence, you also have to prepare for your speech. It improves your self-confidence. The ways to achieve these are:
- Self-understanding: Understand what you’re going to talk about thoroughly, you need to make it seem like you’re the only expert there is on that topic. You should be extremely good at your topic, and the way to do that is to not just understand the precedence of the topic (history), but also the topic itself (current situation) and the aftermath (scenario or possibilities analysis).
- Self-talk: after reading much about the topic, spend time talking to yourself about it. You can do this while you wash plate, bath, and eat – anytime you’re on your own generally. Make a presentation to yourself on the topic consistently. This way you can improve yourself by yourself.
- Self-awareness: when you’re speaking to yourself on the topic or any topic, be aware of your mistakes and try to remedy them. It’s easier to correct a weakness that has been noticed. Keep a journal of your weaknesses, the reasons are for you to improve upon them, not to mull over them. But with it you’d have kept an inventory of your weak points, ones you look forward to improve. These knowledge base is extremely helpful, it helps you speak from insight. And it improves your grandstanding before anyone.
- Improving your memory: Most times, the reason why you use the words “as in” or stammer, is because you’re either too fast when you talk and you cannot recollect your talk while you’re discussing. This point is complimentary to the 2nd point.
- Find a journal for your topic
- Write out all you want to talk about in paragraphs, not bullet points.
- After, this dwell on them, do a lot of self-talk, and as you go on you would begin to remember all your discussion.
- When you notice that you can remember the notes as written down, start to reduce them.
- Reduce gradually until your notes seem like a PowerPoint presentation.
I’m not saying you should put everything offhand, but the secret to reducing it is to look for the points (or sentences) that trigger your memory of the whole paragraph. When you can recollect it, remove the whole paragraph and keep only that sentence, do this for all your notes till it becomes less than a page. After that, start over your self-talk and see to it that you remember all of it.
- Delivering your speech:
This is a manner of etiquette and its correction is personal to everyone. First, remember your main objective is to communicate and connect with your audience i.e. they have to understand you. And knowing this is one of a speaker’s best insight. While you talk you’re meant to constantly look at your audience and see the enthusiasm light up or die in order for you to control your delivery. And how do you do these?
There are three means to which people comprehend discussions: Visuals, Audio & Sentencing
- Visuals: everyone picks up from what they see or what they can see in their minds. And your work as a speaker is to make them see. It’s the most important of all human comprehension pattern and it’s also the fastest. How you achieve this is by tailoring your talk along the lines of something/ someone they can see. If you’re talking about numbers, measurements, distance, space just equate them with objects, environment and people e.g. a six meter long wood is about the length of our office reception, just an example. This pattern of delivery helps people grapple your talk a lot better because they can see it.
- Audios: next is audio, this is all sound. And it is the next best assimilation pattern because people are moved emotionally by audio much more than the words. You would have noticed that movies change between beats/ tones as the movie plays along. What they’re doing invariably is to condition our minds to the message they’re trying to pass across. Like I said, emotions; the sound for love scenes are different from those for suspense, victory, action scenes etc. For a speaker, what you need to consider is, when to raise your voice and when to lower it. Remember, you must vary it. It helps keep your audience involved with you.
- Sentencing: you would been to seminars where the speakers speaks a sentence and people clap, smile or uhm. It’s an indication of advanced word structuring. A properly structured sentence projects sophistication, depth and expertise for the speaker. Depending on the quality of your audience, people look out for this. Am not saying you should go English technical (dictionary foolish) but you should have a reasonably advanced collection of English words per audience. The rules are to know your audience, you cannot use the words for PhD holders with undergrads. You need to know whom you’re speaking to and know what is relatable for them.
Written by Adedamola Adediran
Strategy. Business StartUps and Corporate Restructuring Consulting
Uwaoma Eizu is the lead strategist at Hexavia! He is a graduate of Mathematics with two MBAs and over a decade of experience working with startups and big businesses. His core is in building startups and in corporate restructuring. He is also a certified member of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Institute of Strategic Management of Nigeria and the Project Management Institute, USA. By the side, he writes weekly for the BusinessDay newspaper.