Essential Public Speaking Manners ~ Part 2

“To communicate effectively, one needs to be well versed in and thoroughly aware of what physical and emotional components best express the intended message.”

There are certain specific manners to practice and stay aware of on a public speaking platform or when taping. These manners are the backbone of the public speaker’s effectiveness. They are simple rules to help the speaker perform with confidence and trust. They apply to all public speaking situations. Part 1 can be accessed here.

Atmosphere

Your basic atmosphere during a presentation or a speech should always aim to be relaxed, alert, and open. Atmosphere sets the tone and acts as the overall context of the content to be delivered. Atmosphere is felt at every level of a presentation or of a casual interaction. The slang for it is “vibe” or the “feeling in the room.” It is the mood of the moment at play.

Mood literally runs the show and owns everything in it!

A good movie is first and foremost an atmosphere. Other examples are a good dinner or a hike with a friend. Atmosphere permeates everything we do.

A good marriage is an atmosphere, so is a bad one. The second you walk up in front of a group or in front of anyone for that matter, you bring an atmosphere with you. The atmosphere or clearing you embody is at the heart of your effectiveness and comfort. Everything your audience experiences happens inside the atmosphere or “vibe” you generate for yourself.

Atmosphere or the mood is by far the most subtle performance element. Michael Chekhov, the great actor and acting coach, is at the origin of these discoveries. I was fortunate to study his techniques in New York.

A good speaker has atmosphere. Technically speaking, one creates an atmosphere by imagining the quality one desires to live inside of. It’s very much like decorating your house! Atmosphere is the most creative aspect of any presentation. It is the gateway to creating a sense of belonging and a wonderful opportunity to create relationship.

Technique: Always start by making visual and tactile contact with the room, volumes, shapes, light, objects, color, heights, furniture, etc. It anchors our focus in the physical world, which has the grounding effect we desire. Atmosphere grants access to personal power.

Acknowledging

Acknowledging, greeting, and welcoming your audience breeds loyalty and builds credibility. Always acknowledge as a way to make yourself known and build instant credibility. To repudiate, refuse, and ignore are the antonyms of acknowledging. Acknowledging breaks the ice, creates atmosphere and bonds you with your audience, interviewer or colleagues. The natural fall-out of a warm welcoming acknowledgment is relaxation, trust and openness. Treat your opening few moments as indispensable parts of your presentations, speeches or media appearances. They will also brand you firmly and help create your overall feel (atmosphere or mood).

Acknowledging will keep paying you back way after your gig is over. Thank an audience for being there more than you think is necessary. It validates each member of the audience and commands attention and respect from them. Little or no acknowledgment is a costly mistake and often overlooked. The same goes for social circumstances. Remember, an audience is passive, so acknowledging them aligns them with what you’re about to perform.

Acknowledgment breeds loyalty. Do it from the heart and all present will support you and help you make sure your presentation, speech or act is a hit.

Purpose and Intentions

Purpose and intention give meaning to our actions. “Actions are the messengers of your wishes.” The confidence in public speaking comes from the performance of actions based on our clear intentions.

We do not perform emotions, mental postures or even attitudes.

Always make sure you are anchored in your intentions for the speech, presentation or media appearance at hand. An intention is also called a pursuit or an objective. An intention is visualized in terms of its outcome. A good speaker measures himself against the “ideal outcome.” That’s how we know to adjust and refine our presentation style. An actor or voice artist does the same thing.

Emotions are always the consequence of our actions: you break a vase inadvertently, and then you respond! One creates depth by actually “probing and testing” ideas via actions (not emotions, attitudes or mental postures.) Emotions, attitudes, and mental postures are very often confused with actions. A quick rule of thumb is that an action is always visible, direct and forward. An action is under your control, while an emotion isn’t. Emotions happen while actions are performed, hence the wonderful control through them.

There are internal actions and external actions. Actions are verbs + the how of that verb (the way that you execute the action): to speak slowly, to stand firmly, to raise your voice purposefully, etc. are all actions. They are in relationship with one another, and all have emotional ramifications. Actions have to be (1) Executed with commitment, (2) Carried all the way to completion, and (3) The speaker should always give the reason(s) why an action was either, aborted, interrupted or changed to serve another purpose. The poor execution of an action also diminishes the intended impact on an audience. For instance, if you are going to drink water from a glass, do it intentionally.

Talent

Talent is in the choice of actions, which are essentially ideas. The quality and creativity of our actions is where talent is located and springs from. We commonly believe talent is a quality we are born with. While I don’t object to that interpretation, if you look closer, you will discover that “talented” people do things differently. Their ideas, concepts and actions are simply better, more effective and dazzle us somehow.

For instance, if you are an accomplished writer, your choice of words and ideas are what makes the writing come through powerfully. What we call inspiration comes down to choices, which are ideas. In this world, we are “the quality” of what we do and how we do it! The difference between a great basketball player and a very good one comes down to choice, not ability. Popular culture does not allow us to see the nuances. For instance, a great composer has organized the notes in such a way that he or she makes the work seamless and, of course, delightful. It all comes down to awareness of choice.

Furthermore, choosing requires boldness, vision and a minimum amount of technique. Hence, commitment to choice is essential. You might ask yourself: how do I select my actions, gestures, wording, phrasing, use of stage, etc., better? The natural answer is by (1)paying close attention to the quality of your choices and how they land on your audience. (2)By improving the quality of your actions. (3)By asking yourself a simple and important creative question: could this be done better, and if so, how? It will open up a whole new world of relaxation, ease and power.

Here’s an interesting thought: standing in front of your audience feeling nervous is just a poor choice of action. If you are really in action, you have no time to get nervous. You might think of it as reverse psychology, but everything we do is a matter of focus, which are…your choices. It takes clarity and accountability to really get it. When I forget to pick up my kid from school, it is as much a choice as showing up ten minutes early, totally available and present.

We simply under-estimate the power we have in choosing and the power it has on all aspects of our lives.

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