Speaking Well and With Power Too Often Overlooked and Undervalued
First and lasting impressions form quickly by listening to someone speak. Despite that, too many people are careless about their speech and how they deliver a message.
Advice on how to write professionally is abundant. Advice on how to sound professional when you speak is scarce. That suggests training on speaking well and with power is too often overlooked and undervalued.
The speech deficit goes beyond irritating repetition of useless phrases like “you know” and extends to sloppy phrasing and slouching posture. It reflects a lack of discipline and a disdain for how you present yourself in speech.
Speech coaches work with professional speakers to sharpen their words and eliminate verbal or physical ticks. However, most first impressions derive from casual conversations when speakers, even well trained ones, let down their guard.
It’s not necessary for professionals always to sound like they are giving a formal speech. In fact, informal conversation is more likely to convey lasting impressions to conversation partners such as fellow workers, customers, bosses, constituents and important contacts.
Some excellent writers are poor speakers, perhaps because they value their written words and are indifferent to their spoken ones. They may not realize how much readers may discount their well-chosen written words because of their ill-chosen spoken words.
For communication professionals, it’s essential to be proficient in both written and verbal expression. Writing and speaking aren’t distinct qualities in communication. They are different sides of the same coin.
The training of communications professionals should emphasize the interchangeable importance of writing and speaking. It shouldn’t matter whether a student wants to produce video content, market cosmetic products or pitch political views. Words matter, regardless of format.
One of the best approaches to tuning up written and spoken communication skills is studying how to be an effective presenter.
Effective Presentations, which provides communication training for presenters, offers five suggestions for creating a good first impression. They are worth considering and adopting.
Look the Part
”The importance of a good first impression initially rests on how you look. Like it or not, people make judgments and decisions before words come pouring out.” This suggestion argues for an appearance that matches the moment. Dressing and grooming for the occasion will boost a presenter’s self-confidence in delivering his or her message.
Mind Your Body Language
A slouch or a scowl won’t score points with an audience or a conversation partner. You need to project approachability to gain trust in others to engage with you. Mumbling or speaking in slang are the verbal equivalents of bad posture. You need to be prepared, mentally and physically, to do your job – connect and communicate to your audience of one or hundreds.
Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin
Discomfort is obvious and very distracting for an audience. Verbal and physical ticks – chewing on a fingernail, rattling change in a pocket or waving your hands wildly – are dead giveaways. For many presenters, what they wear stokes confidence. For all successful presenters, time is spent with a coach or in front of a mirror to identify annoying traits and practice avoiding them while speaking. Media training can provide some assurance. Practice and discipline are the best tutors.
Master What You Communicate
A tangled message sloppily delivered doesn’t represent a job well done for a professional communicator, regardless whether it’s an internal or external presentation. Part of being a professional communicator is mastering what you are communicating. That involves having a solid working knowledge of your subject and anticipating the likely questions you might be asked. In the case of contentious issues or policy matters, it pays to know the other side of the story you’re telling. And, communications mastery requires knowing how much to present to keep an audience engaged and when to stop and allow questions or someone else to speak.
Every form of communication requires energy to present, and there is no better energy source than positivity.
Bring Your Positivity
Every form of communication requires energy to present, and there is no better energy source than positivity. “People are naturally attracted to upbeat individuals. Think of a first impression as an opportunity to sell yourself.”
Communicating effectively is an all-body experience. You need to look the part, feel the moment, be well-prepared and execute with energy.
Speaking well and with the power of purpose is an essential skill for a professional communicator. That requires the same discipline as writing effectively. Professional speaking and writing are not accidental skills. It takes practice and discipline. Most of all, it requires awareness that the words you speak matter and make a lasting impression.