Written by: Dara Connolly, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
We’ve all been there. It’s your turn to speak up in the meeting, or you are standing on a stage and all of a sudden, Eh… you don’t say a thing or you don’t say the right thing.
Learning how to be an impactful and influential speaker is an important tool. When we communicate in a way that conveys confidence others are more likely to not only listen, but we have the potential to persuade their thinking and make a difference.
Here are 3 quick tips to help you speak up, speak out, and speak with impact in front of an audience:
1. Pause for impact. Have you ever noticed how fast you speak when you are nervous? A recent study by Harvard Business Review, says most of us speak at a rate of 125 words per minute – that’s more than 2 words per second! At this fast pace, listeners don’t have time to ponder what you are saying. When we race through our conversation or presentation, our listeners are confused or unaffected by our words.
Choose your words carefully and say less. Getting your message across in fewer words is more impactful than speaking a lot but not saying anything.
Let your words and their meaning sink in by speaking at a cadence that others can follow.
One of the tools I use when teaching clients to speak with impact is to find the natural pause in the conversation. Try saying the sentence below out loud while pausing for one second after each comma:
“Pausing, allows the listener, to review what they heard, and mentally summarize key points, reinforcing the message, and its resonance.”
This may feel weird to you as the speaker, but for the listener, pausing provides an easy pace to follow along; and it helps you form your thoughts as you think of the next words to say.
Extra Bonus tip!
Pay attention the next time someone is talking at a meeting or in front of a group. We think everyone is listening intently to every word however, only 17-25% of what we hear is retained. To make an impact as a speaker, place your pauses strategically before you share your main point and a few seconds after to be sure it landed. Pauses give your listeners a non-verbal cue to pay attention to the next thing you say or the next thing you are about to say is important. Adding effective pauses is crucial if you want others to intently listen to you.
2. The next tip to being an impactful speaker is to listen to what’s being said around you. Most of us are half-listening at best and formulating what we will say. However, if you are about to speak up in a meeting, listen intently to what others are saying and customize your response based on how it fits into the conversation. If you are about to deliver a presentation, talk to audience members beforehand to get a sense of what concerns they have.
Remember, the reason you are speaking is to share an idea, message, story, or comment that resonates and helps your audience. Many speakers forget this and focus on getting through their content. Content is good, but connection is better. A phrase I often say is “connection over perfection”.
When you speak publicly, ask yourself are you simply talking to hear yourself talk, or are you interested in helping your audience understand?
Regardless of how big your audience is, you are only speaking to one person at a time. Remove words such as “all of you”, “everyone”, “this company”, “you guys”, etc. These phrases remove the connection, and all can be replaced by the word “you”. Speak to one and everyone will listen.
3. Say less. A common trap that many people fall into when they are speaking is that they talk too much about themselves or say too much. We mentioned how others are barely listening. By saying less and only sharing stories that are short, relevant, and to the point, you can re-establish the balance in a conversation. Think of communicating like a dance. Each person takes a turn leading – but if you always lead others may feel unseen or heard. This was one of the reasons it was easy for me to become an impactful speech coach. I know that words have power and fewer words have even more power.
These are just 3 of many tips I can teach you how to speak with impact and influence in front of an audience. To learn more be sure to go to my new Club at DaraConnolly.club for exclusive coaching content.
Accountability is the multiplier for success. When we set out to make improvements to our lives, consistency and support are key. Information alone does not transform us.
If you’ve read my article, I’d love to hear from you!
Dara Connolly, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Dara Connolly is the author of the new book Flip Your Fear and founder of PTC™– an award-winning confidence program. Dara was the ultimate juxtaposition– a Black-Belt martial artist and a lifelong timid wallflower filled with fear! She now helps individuals speak up with confidence and be more influential and impactful when speaking in front of an audience.
Dara is a TEDx speaker and nationally recognized expert in the field of confidence. She has been featured on FOX, CW, The Connect Show, The List Show, Dr. Laura, and other media outlets. Her latest book, Flip Your Fear is available on Amazon.