Saturday, 30 October 2010

The sound of silence

Plain bread is good but finding a hidden goodie is always a treat and you want to pause and savour it. So it is with your presentations. You need to give your audience time to think about and ponder on your pearls of wisdom. How do you do this?

p...a...u...s...e!

Make your point. Stop speaking. Look around the audience. Measure their reactions. Carry on with your speech.

The benefits are multifold. Your audience has had time to process your point and is more likely to retain the information. You, the speaker, have had time to digest the reactions you are getting and you may want to make a swift re-adjustment to your approach based on them. You also have time to catch your breath.

Words are wonderful, pauses perfect them!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Are they all talking about me?

As children, we perceive that the world revolves around us. As teenagers, we worry that the world is against us. As adults, it is difficult to shake off these formative ideas.

If you are in a train with people speaking a foreign language, do you assume that at least some of them are talking about you? Most of us do. Once we learn the language, we learn that people talk about everyday matters. In Hong Kong this is; what to eat, what has been eaten and what should be eaten!

When it comes to public speaking, a common fear people mention is that they feel that the audience is staring at them, willing them to fail or waiting for them to say something foolish. Accurate? Next time you are in a meeting or listening to a speaker, pause and analyse your thoughts. I am willing to take a wild guess that only 30% of your attention is dedicated to the speaker. The rest will be on your everyday concerns or plans you want to get on with as soon as the meeting has finished.

Your challenge as a speaker is the opposite of this common fear. We are all easily distracted, we aren't interested in having to listen to and think about subjects outside our immediate interests, how do you get us to focus to you?

Guess what the next topic is going to be...

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Treat your voice with respect!

Think about it; if you are playing a violin, or a flute, or even the kettle drums, you warm up your instrument before a concert. Maybe you'll play a couple of practice notes or run through a couple of scales? And yet, when speaking in public, the majority of people walk on to the platform and expect their voice to be in full working order. Wrong.. wrong.. wrong.

So what do you do to warm up?

1: Go somewhere quiet and (if you are self conscious as most of us are) somewhere private.

2: Shake out your legs, your arms, your shoulders and finally your head. Don't hold back! Get rid of all the tension.

3: Take a few deep breaths making sure that you are breathing from the diaphragm (hold your hand on your tummy to ensure that this is happening)

4: Release your breath slowly whilst running through the vowels. Open your mouth as widely as possibly and really stretch out your face. Repeat this a few times.

5: Read the first few lines of your speech or poem. Over exagerate.

You are all set. Stride on to the platform and amaze your audience!

Jessica

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Hong Kong Speech Festival

It's that time of year again! All over Hong Kong, thousands of students are trying to make sense of poetry, prose and bible readings in preparation for the HKSMSA Speech Festival. At Brandon, we have worked with hundreds of students who have been preparing for the competition. Our message is this: prepare, relax and do your best! Only one person may win but everyone who takes part should be proud of their achievements.

So, short of coming to Brandon Learning Centre, how can you prepare? Over the next few weeks, I will be giving advice to help you get ready to impress.

Part one: preparation

1: Read the poem through. Read it to yourself first and then read it outloud.

2: Think about the meaning. What is the poet trying to say? If you aren't sure what certain words mean, look them up.

3: Do you like the poem? If it doesn't grab you straight away, try to find something in the language, rhythm or the theme that speaks to you. A poem you are in sympathy with is a poem you will perform well.

4: Learn your poem.. familiarise yourself with every line.

Next time we will look at ways of warming up your voice.

Remember: there is no such thing as a natural public speaker. Everyone needs to learn and the Speech Festival is a terrific place to get practice!

Have fun, be confident... Jessica