While some people are naturally gifted when it comes to speaking in public and their speeches are always a success, there are a number of basic techniques that everyone else will find of value. Here are 4 tips to help you convince bosses, clients or co-workers alike.
- Make your wardrobe work to your advantage
As the proverb reminds us: “Don’t judge a book by its cover”… So, to help stack things in your favour, you first need to abide by the dress codes associated with your job (such as the lawyer’s wig and gown, or the way a salesman dresses differently to someone in the creative department of an ad agency) and suited to your audience (so that you create a feeling of people identifying with you). First impressions are vital: it would be a pity to lose credibility before you have even opened your mouth!
- Watch your body language
Take the time to look each member of the jury in the eyes, tap the palm of one hand with your fist to reinforce an argument, approach a witness to help build their confidence – and so on. Good lawyers excel in non-verbal communication. In fact, gestures can sometimes say far more than words alone. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to start flinging your arms all over the place: you may risk tiring out your audience or distracting them. But it’s good to use an appropriate gesture or two to drive your arguments home.
- Hold people’s attention
First of all, you need to get your voice and delivery just right. Too monotonous, and you risk sending your audience to sleep. Too strident, and you just may irritate them. So, how do you brighten up what you have to say? The best thing to do is vary your tone and change your pace. Adjusting your speed of delivery, inserting pauses or modifying the intensity of your voice will enable you to emphasise specific parts of your reasoning or regain people’s attention.
- Maintain their interest
Then it’s down to the nitty-gritty… Your thoughts need to be structured, while what you say must be well-organised and logical. Which means you need to know exactly what you are trying to demonstrate and the message that you want to get across. Only if you have a carefully thought out plan from the outset will your speech be concise, clear and to the point. And to keep your audience interested, you can always play on their feelings, perhaps by illustrating your talk with an amusing anecdote or alarming example that focuses their minds on your message. As for humour, why not? But use it carefully, so that you don’t shock or offend anyone.