How to Rivet the Attention of Any Audience

by Susan Berkley

If you've ever suspected your public speaking might be putting people to sleep, fear not. You don't need an elaborate bag of gimmicks to liven up your talks. Here are three easy ways to become a more energetic, natural communicator.

A boring speaker isn't just tedious for the audience. It's embarrassing for the speaker. If you've ever suspected you might be putting people to sleep, fear not. You don't need an elaborate bag of gimmicks to liven up your talks. All you need is a little more liveliness in your voice.

While working as a broadcaster and voice-over artist, I have discovered that the quickest and easiest way to liven up your voice is to liven up your body language.

With body language in mind, let's explore three easy ways to become a more energetic, natural communicator.

1. Posture
Sit up straight, or even stand, when speaking on the phone. If you habitually slump in your chair, I guarantee that the tone of your voice is going to sound slumped and the people you call may find it hard to concentrate on what you are saying. Why? Because there is no energy in your voice to capture their interest.

2. Gesture
Even though you cannot see them, successful radio personalities use their bodies to express themselves, consciously or not. They speak with their hands. Their body language is fluid and alive--just as it was when you were a child. Next time you are on the phone, pretend you are "on-the-air." Notice how energetic gestures add life to your voice. Try using a telephone headset so your hands can stay free and relaxed while you speak. You don't have to look like you are conducting an orchestra. A few expressive hand gestures will do.



3. Facial Expression
Do people frequently ask you what's wrong even when you feel as though you are smiling and happy inside? If so, you are probably a "secret smiler." Secret smilers tend to look intense and may scowl when they are concentrating. If you are in this group your voice may tend to flatten and sound monotonous to others. By developing a greater range of facial expression, you'll develop a more interesting and captivating voice. Here's a great exercise to try. You will need a TV, a hand mirror, and afriend:

Step One: Turn on the TV news channel

Step Two: Watch a few news stories keeping your face relaxed and neutral.

Step Three: Look in the mirror. Pretend you are mute and have to express the feeling of each story to an imaginary third person. Do this with facial expression only.

Step Four: Repeat step three looking at your friend. Can they identify the emotion?

From "The Voice Coach" ezine by Susan Berkley. Copyright 2002, reprinted with permission. For a free subscription visit http://www.greatvoice.com.  Susan Berkley is a professional speaker and international communications expert. She is a top voiceover artist and author of "Speak to Influence: How to Unlock the Hidden Power of Your Voice, " available at bookstores or from The Great Voice Company at 800-333-8108.

 
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