Low-Energy Speaker? 3 Simple Ways to Rev Yourself Up

Smithsonian via Flickr

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.

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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.

Thanks for reading! This is just a taste of the topics I cover in my live workshops and weekly tips. If you aren’t on my email list yet, you can join up at the top of the page, or sign up for a workshop. And feel free to comment below, or ask questions.

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Comments (5)

  • Simon Veitch Reply

    Hi Sarah

    That’s a good read, thanks, and looks a very nice mailout to boot.

    Doing a business planning course at the moment, up here in lovely Bendigo, a fair bit of group work is involved, with many presentations included, and this letter of yours is entirely appropriate for the occasion. I’ll practice some revving up for the one.

    Also, would like to let you know that even that little test exercise we went through several months back in Box Hill had a distinct and appreciable result. It’s a funny thing isn’t it, this ‘fear’ stuff, it does tend to evaporate when you can get it out and hit it with a few good forensics. Not that I’m cured yet but the difference is substantial.

    How’s it all going with yrself, and yr talking about talking biz?


    October 20, 2011 at 11:41 pm
    • Sarah Denholm Reply

      Thanks for you comments Simon, and I’m glad you think this article will be helpful: let me know how you get on with trying the different exercises, I’d be very interested to hear of your results.

      I’m also delighted that the text exercise we did in Box Hill has helped; and you’re absolutely right about looking at the fear and working it out being a big help. Understanding your own “hot buttons” and then taking action is very powerful.

      Business is going well, thank you! I’m planning to do some regional workshops next year, too, so I may even be in your area at some point.

      Best wishes with the business planning, and thanks for taking the time to write.


      October 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm
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