A few years ago, most people didn’t know what good presentations looked like. If you were lucky you may have had a great leader with a talent for speaking who you could look up to, but mostly you would have seen managers struggle their way through bullet points, boring the audience and saying “This is the way we’ve always done it, so why change?”.
In fact, some people feel that speaking is a talent you are either born with or not. Perhaps you feel that speaking isn’t really your strength? Can you change and become a skilled, inspiring speaker?
When Steve Jobs gave a talk in 1984 about the Macintosh computer he stood behind a lectern and read from notes, looking down. By the time he was launching the iPod he was telling stories, engaging the audience and owning the stage. He honed his craft, working to improve every detail, just as closely as he perfected his products.
It is now critical for you to do the same. Now the world has access to TED talks, which show us a vast range of brilliant talks, so your clients and team know how good some talks can be. Some go viral, some don’t. In fact, talks on similar subjects with similar titles can get vastly different results.
Researchers from ‘Science of People’ decided to find out why. In a study with 760 people watching 15-20 minute talks they discovered some amazing things:
- People will rate you the same for intelligence, credibility and charisma, whether they have the sound on or off. Of course, you still need to say something worthwhile and we spend a lot of time working with clients on writing their content, but you must then deliver this in a visually engaging way, or your audience simply won’t listen or be motivated by you.
- The more gestures you make, the more engaged people become. Researchers found a direct correlation showing that the lowest viewed TED talks (with an average of 124,000 views) had speakers who made half the number of gestures compared to the highest viewed talks (with an average 7,360,000 views at the time of the research). If you are going to stand in front of people you must visually and emotionally win their attention – gestures help you to do both.
- Vocal variety increases credibility and popularity. Speakers with the greatest range of vocal variety scored highest, having 30.5% greater vocal variety than the lowest rated talks.
Fortunately, you can learn all of these skills. Think about learning a sport like tennis – there are techniques such as fore-hand, back-hand, serve and volley that are essential to your success. If you learn and practise them you will be more successful. The more you practise, the more natural they become and you can then add your own personality and style to the way you play.
There are similar skills you can learn that will help you to succeed at speaking. We have recently completed our own study to find out which skills work best, with over 2,000 people involved from around the world. We found that a speaker who had just a few hours of coaching could gain similar ratings to successful professional speakers, by applying a few simple techniques. I will share the full results on this when they are published shortly in the Journal of Psychology.
For now, I encourage you to focus on raising your game in this area. If you do, you can speak in a way that will help you succeed and give you a greater opportunity to make your ideas happen.
To learn more about how we can help you please contact our team.