Have you ever had the experience of finishing your presentation and realizing you lost five to ten minutes from your practice time to your actual presentation? This may cause some panic when you sneak a look at your watch and realize you will be short of your minimum time limit.
Here are some tips on how to avoid the rush caused by anxiety or distractions. Look for a reaction to what you are saying from your audience. Becoming more conscious of your audience instead of thinking about yourself will help you slow down naturally. The nodding of the head or the look of concentration will let you know that you are getting your ideas across and will help you focus on communicating with your audience. If there is a puzzled look, you will more than likely give a little more information and become more concerned with your message. This may motivate you to pause as you consider what else you might say to make the point clearer.
Pause briefly at the end of a thought. Counting to three mentally is a mechanical way to give your audience a moment to ponder what you have just said. Find two or three places in your speech where the pause is very useful in emphasizing a point and mark your notes to remind you to pause at those places in your presentation. A place where I like to place the pause is before a quotation. Pausing here seems to give more impact to the words that follow.
Take a step between points. Just the physical movement will slow down your delivery speed. When you move from introduction to the body of the speech is a good time to take a step toward your audience. When you begin a story is another appropriate place to take a step. Certainly moving to the screen to illustrate a point from your visual is also a good opportunity to move.
Consciously incorporating these tips will help you soon to be doing them automatically; then your audience will not be distracted by your frantic delivery pace and will more easily understand your message.
Perhaps this point is inherent in the quotation from Charles Dickens [pause]: “Make them laugh, make them cry, but above all make them wait!”
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively.
Contact Steve today for priority scheduling!
(859) 441-6520 or email info@SBoyd.com