Have you ever felt a need to make yourself smaller – a subconscious need to avoid attention, to deflect it away? 

Have you ever wondered why you are smart but don’t seem to make an impact when you’re talking publicly?  

Do you worry about being told you’re a show-off?

Do you listen to talks and wonder why the speaker is failing to say anything memorable or you simply don’t connect with them? 

Which speaker are you?

According to Geoffrey James of Inc.com, there are four types of speakers –

1.    The incoherent, who meander, use tons of jargon, and talk of things interesting mostly to themselves.

2.    The coherent, who can verbally communicate facts and opinions but seldom say anything memorable.

3.    The articulate, who speaks succinctly and clearly but whose words are seldom persuasive.

4.    The eloquent, who uses language and body language to win the hearts and minds of their listeners.

Childhood fears

Often as we transition from childhood into adulthood, we move away from a desire to be the centre of attention. In fact, small amounts of egomania can be very useful in life – and in particular, they give us much-needed boosts of confidence when it comes to public speaking. We might feel it’s better to slip unnoticed in life but to be an eloquent speaker we need that confidence, that desire to be in the line of attention even if only for the time we have the floor.

peacock display

It’s not a question of simply standing taller and being bolder and for many there are often deep routed fears from childhood and a lifetime of habits to unravel.  Like every new skill it needs practice, but we’ve shared a few tips below to help you become a more eloquent speaker.

Fear doesn’t go away when we avoid it – in fact, running from it will strengthen the fear.  We need to get curious about it, understand where it comes from, and notice, and listen to the fear but question what’s true, and if those thoughts serve us well.

Remember your value – being big or small, extrovert or introvert you have an important value in the world.   Stop relying on external validation to make you feel good but learn to appreciate your own self.  Trust that you have important things to say, and people know, like and trust you.

Perfection is a fool’s game – whilst you can practise a lot (and should) there are always things that could have gone better But remember there’s a reason it isn’t a robot performing your speech or giving your presentation.  The human voice is impactful and the personal touch has a vital role in what you’re doing.  Embrace that humanity.

Make yourself physically taller.  Eloquence is not just about language; a huge amount is about your body language.  Get your spine straight but relaxed to give confidence (slumping shows a lack of confidence and a rigid back is an indication of fight/flight) Work on finding the middle.

Practise the basics.  There are a few instant improvements to practise

Make eye contact

Check your volume

Vary the pace and use the pause

Keep filler words to a minimum and avoid cliches as well as technical jargon.

Remember:

Your audience wants to understand what you are talking about without much effort.

Help them by delivering a clear, projected voice, enthusiasm and open body language so they can understand the message you are delivering.

If you’re in need of some inspiration – remember Marianne Williamson’s quote:

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.”

If you’re looking for some inspiration after this article why not read on…..

Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun

This acclaimed book draws from Berkun’s many years as an accomplished public speaker spent delivering talks and leading seminars on a variety of different topics. It is filled with valuable insight as well as practical tips on how to stand up, present your ideas and keep the audience on your side.

Video:

One of the best ways to observe eloquence is to watch films. Some films with moving speeches include Jerry Maguire (1996), Braveheart (1995), The King’s Speech (2010), Invictus (2009), Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).