As a leader, you have to communicate, persuade, and sell your ideas – and you do it all day every day. Maybe you’re speaking one-to-one with an employee. Or, you might be bringing up a motion for approval at a board meeting. And, how about those times when you have to step up to the podium and speak into a microphone to a large audience? Do you get nervous at the prospect of speaking? Let’s make speaking clearly easy for you and talk about how to make your point in any situation.
It has been said that people are more afraid of speaking in front of an audience than they are of dying. That means they’d rather be in the coffin than delivering the eulogy! if that sounds like you and you have to give a “speech,” arrive early and get to know the room and the lectern and greet some of the audience beforehand. Bring a glass of water with you (there is usually a shelf in the lectern to set it on.) You’ll want to position the microphone so it points to your chin. Then, ignore it. Breathe, and speak slowly. Focus on a friendly face in the audience and speak to him/her. Then find another friendly face and do the same.
It’s ok to have an outline, but please don’t read your speech! Reading reduces eye contact, and that reduces audience engagement. Plan on tripping over your words, so you’re not blindsided if and when it happens. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Go back to your main point and carry on.
So, to speak clearly, here are the basics of how to make your point:
- Know your purpose or main idea – it may be to inform, train, persuade, or call to action
- Understand your audience/receiver’s position – start at that level
- Reinforce your point or message with examples, images, exercises, quotes, props, slides, or handouts
- Incorporate visual, auditory, and kinesthetic examples so you relate to different learning styles
- Between each reinforcement, return to your main idea
- Use synonyms to repeat your main point in a different way
- End with “that’s why I believe we should…” your main point
Follow these easy guidelines and you’ll never leave anyone wondering what you were trying to say. You’ll come across as a more confident and persuasive leader. That’s how to make your point. You haven’t peaked yet!
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