Three "Don’t" Tips from a Public Speaking Coach

Three “Don’t” Tips to Remember for Any Speech or Presentation

I’ve been a public speaking trainer and coach for more than twenty-five years and have helped hundreds of clients overcome a variety of public speaking challenges. Often the task is not so much telling a client what to do, but more what not to do. Below are three major rules to keep in mind if you want to be perceived as a credible and confident communicator in any professional situation:

  1. Don’t use upward inflections or “up speak” at the end of sentences
    “What’s up speak?” you ask. That is when your voices rises upward at the end of a sentence and you sound like you are asking a question. This vocal habit instantly weakens the speaker’s credibility and authority. How do you fix upward inflections? Record yourself in a telephone conversation or having a conversation with a colleague. Listen to your vocal pattern during playback with an objective ear. Do you sound like you are asking a question at the end of a thought then continuing on to the next thought? Record yourself again and work on ending each sentence with a downward inflection, pause, then deliver your next sentence. Becoming aware of a bad habit is the first step toward breaking it!
  1. Don’t use “low power body language” when speaking to others.
    Do you look confident when you speak? Practice giving a short presentation and video record it. Do you look authoritative? Posture and other body language elements have an enormous impact on your credibility and professionalism, whether you are an intern or the CEO. Simply holding your head up, shoulders back, and positioning your arms in an open position (rather than folded across your chest) makes you look more convincing when speaking. Adding a smile and making direct eye contact with people moves the perception about your credibility up another notch. Great ideas come from creative and intelligent people. But how those ideas are presented has a huge impact on whether those ideas are acted upon. Those who speak with passion and look confident when sharing their views are 75% more likely to motivate others into action!
  1. Don’t rival Hugo Chavez for the longest speech in history.
    While it is not officially recorded as the longest speech in history, in 2012 the late Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez delivered a 9.5-hour speech to announce his re-election campaign. Talking longer does not make you sound smarter. No matter who you are, keeping your speeches short and to the point will always leave a more favorable impression with any audience. In most cases, 15-20 minutes is as long as any audience will pay attention before getting restless. As President Franklin Roosevelt said, “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”

Of course, there are many other communication “dos” and “don’ts” that great speakers utilize but by following these three you will be on your way to being seen as a more polished and credible professional!

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