Dating back to her days on the college debate team, Christine Clapp, President of Spoken with Authority, admitted to the Baltimore Local in a recent program that, like many of us, she wasn’t comfortable with public speaking and feared it would always hamper her. Quoting Christine's biography:
"I dreaded giving presentations. In fact, to avoid the agony of a semester-long public speaking course in college, I chose what I thought was the lesser of two evils: participating in two debate tournaments. Technically, you might say that I had a perfect record over my first dozen debates: 0 wins, 12 losses."
Seeking to make a significant shift and acquire a competitive advantage, Christine dedicated herself to becoming a world-class presenter. After earning a master’s degrees in communications, she served as a communications director on Capitol Hill, taught thousands of undergraduate and graduate students, and authored the highly rated book, Presenting at Work: A Guide to Public Speaking in Professional Contexts. In 2008, Christine launched Spoken with Authority, a presentation skills consultancy that trains managers, leaders, and executives to achieve their personal best every time they present.
No one is born a great speaker. It takes commitment and practice. On average, it takes six weeks to establish a new communications habit. Christine challenged participants to commit to learning specific strategies and techniques applicable to a small meeting or interview beginning with the five elements of speaking.
Stance. Convey confidence with your feet spread, shoulders calm, and hands down by your side. It sounds oversimplified, but how we stand impacts how people perceive us. How we carry our bodies impacts the way we feel about ourselves.
Sound. You want to speak in a low octave with a loud, crisp voice. Articulate each word clearly and take pause to breathe.
Smile. Interject a soft grin while presenting to help build rapport with your audience.
Silence. Frequently, we're trained to think silence is awkward. However, in a presentation, silence demands attention, allowing us time to regather if needed, and helps discipline us to eliminate junk words, such as “umm” and “you know.”
Sight. Making personal eye contact with another individual for as little as three seconds builds interpersonal connection.
By Kim Trone, Marketing Director, Stock and Leader