We’ve come to the 6th of 7 essential skills of a good speaker in my C.R.I.S.P.E.R formula (see here for the overview article). The 6th skill is energy.
When we speak in front of others, we need energy. Not bouncing off the walls, but enough the audience doesn’t ‘tune out’ in front of us, but instead get carried along with our energy. Enough that they can get our message not only through our words, but through how our body and face communicate with them. An audience takes their cue from us.
“Life begets life, energy begets energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” – Sarah Bernhardt, 19th century actor
You may be low-energy because you’re resigned to being a poor speaker, tired, or just have a naturally low-key personality. Whatever the reason, to be successful in communicating your message, you need to inject some life into your presenting style. This means temporarily experimenting with giving up patterns and habits that may play a part in restraining and numbing you in front of a group. Yes, it does mean moving out of your comfort zone, but the good news is that after you’ve finished, you can go right back to your old ways 🙂
A recent print ad campaign for Opera Australia was simply called “Life. Amplified.” Speaking well is amplifying yourself to be slightly larger than life (and appropriate to the room size and the audience). Here are 3 ways to practise ramping yourself up at home:
By the way, you’ll probably find these feel awkward and mechanical at the beginning; this just seems to be part of the deal when trying new things.
Amplify your body. Breathe from your diaphragm, and get moving; gesture in a way which shows that you’re ready for action. Punch or karate-chop the air, or get “ready, set” on imaginary starting blocks. Extend this idea to gesturing fully as you speak about a topic aloud. This is guaranteed to give you an immediate jolt, sparking your life-force higher
Amplify your voice. Pump up the volume and practise speaking loudly, as if trying to reach people at the back of a large hall. Go to 100% more than usual, then down to 10% more, then up to 50%. Your goal is to become flexible in your reach
Amplify your thinking. Play with being openly more expressive and enthusiastic about your topic (if you aren’t really, pretend!) Or tap into your values; get beyond your usual ways of thinking about your message if you need to. Use more vivid words, richer descriptions. You’ll create a richer experience for your audience (and yourself)
If you practise amplifying regularly and make it part of your warm-up routine, it will naturally become part of your actual speaking energy.
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