Strengthen your words – 5 simple speaking tips you can use today

cool-729445_640If you use weak words, you weaken your message. So to make what you say more vivid and compelling, you should rarely use words like “very” or “really”.

For instance, instead of saying “very good” or “very bad”, you could use stronger adjectives – like “superb” or “awful”.

That’s what well-known public-speaking blogger John Zimmer wrote recently, and I agree.

In fact John shared a handy list of almost 150 words you could use when you’re tempted to say “very”. (The list was originally compiled by Jennifer Frost.)

Does that mean you should never say “very”? No, it doesn’t. As John says:

“[Very] has its place when used sparingly”

To my mind, that’s because sometimes when you avoid “very”, you might cause 1 or more of these 4 problems, where you choose a stronger word that:

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Critique of Toastmasters video: “Managing Fear”

Have you ever stood in front of an audience and felt so nervous that you couldn’t remember what you wanted to say?

I’m sure you’ve been nervous about speaking in public

I bet you can relate to that feeling, and even if you’ve never felt exactly that way, I’m sure you’ve been nervous about speaking in public. (I have, for sure!)

Because so many people can relate to that question, and it’s emotionally charged, it’d make a great opening line for a talk on public speaking.

In fact, it is the opening line for the 3½-minute Toastmasters video below. At least, you could say it’s the opening line – or you might argue it’s not.

More on that shortly, but 1st, why not watch the video and make up your own mind?
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Gesture from right to left in your talk [Video]

Here’s a tip you might like, because it’s used by elite professional speakers. Three points about the tip are that it’s:

  • Subtle
  • Counter-intuitive
  • Yet surprisingly effective!

Let me show you how it works

In your talk, suppose you’re discussing the passage of time, or the steps in a process, or items in a list. At times like those, you might often gesture with a sideways movement of one or both arms (or hands, or with your whole body – depending on factors like the size of the room, how much emphasis you want to add, and so on).

If you don’t think about what you’re doing – and you don’t practise on video beforehand – you’ll likely gesture from your left to right, because that’s what feels natural to you.

Take a look at this 5-second example to see what that type of gesture looks like:

Note: If you’d like to replay the clip, please use this link to open it on another tab, because when embedded in a blog post, YouTube doesn’t support replaying a clip from the same point. (Or, you can press F5 to refresh the page, and then click the video below again.)


 
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Critique of Allan Pease’s TEDx talk on body language [Video]

Short of time? Skip to the critique itself

Have you seen Allan Pease’s great TEDx talk? It’s called:

“Body language – the power is in the palm of your hands.”

As you might feel too (if you watch it below), I found it enthralling for 2 reasons:

  • The topic’s fascinating: How you routinely use your hands has strong yet subconscious effects on your dealings with other people, and even on your own feelings.
  • Allan delivered the talk in a highly engaging way, with passion, humour, and audience involvement too.

You’ll find specific tips on how you can avoid some of its weaker aspects

In this post, you’ll find some of the talk’s best points picked out, plus specific tips on how you can avoid some of its weaker aspects in your own talks. In particular, parts of the talk’s opening and closing could have been stronger, so that’s where I’ll focus.

You might like to watch the talk here. Or, you can click the links later in the post to watch key parts of it.


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Body language bullshit – beware, public-speaking baloney!

BullThis post aims to dispel 2 myths you might have heard about public speaking:

  • an old, very persistent myth, and
  • a new one that seems to date from just 4 months ago.

So let’s get straight into the myth-slaying

Have you heard people say that you convey only 7% of any talk through your words? The same people will likely say you convey much more of your message through tone (38%) and body language (55%). Well

If anyone tells you that,
please let them know it’s nonsense!

Here’s why that’s the case

The 7-38-55 figures come from studies by Albert Mehrabian, but his work focused on:
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Using true eye contact, meaningful movement, and natural gestures when you present [Video]

jugglerNo doubt you’ve heard a lot about using eye contact to engage people when you present. It’s certainly one of the best ways to keep people’s attention, and to connect with them.

But do you manage to keep true eye contact for about 5 seconds or more? (By “true” eye contact, I mean with just one person at a time!) Only with such a gaze do you give enough time for a meaningful connection with that person.

If you look at them more briefly, they (and the rest of your audience) will likely feel that your eyes are flitting around the room. That’s because there’s not enough time for you to share a complete thought with the person you’re looking at.

Share a complete thought with the person you’re looking at

So check out this neat 3-minute video by presentation coach Jim Endicott (at the 2012 Presentation Summit). In the video, you’ll see a simple, natural technique for lengthening your eye contact.
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Boost testosterone – present better! (Regardless of your sex) [Video to watch]

Here’s how to exude confidence (and feel it too) when you present. Amazingly, it comes down to the quickest and easiest type of preparation you’re ever likely to do!

The fast-moving and fascinating 18-minute video below shows you the way, based on remarkable research into the hormonal effects of body language. Continue reading