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  • November 22, 2014

Talking Points: Do You See What I Mean? - Ladue News: Business & Wealth

Talking Points: Do You See What I Mean?

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Posted: Thursday, December 26, 2013 12:00 pm

As we continue our discussion about crafting your elevator speech, remember that your speech might have great content on each ‘floor,’ but if not delivered properly, the results will not meet the intended goals. Last month, we discussed the first element of nonverbal communication, eye contact. Let’s look at some more:

Facial Expressions

Smile! Smiling is universally understood. It warms people to you, and it’s contagious. When you give one, you usually get one right back! Other ‘universal’ facial expressions include expressions of fear, anger, surprise, disgust, happiness and sadness.

Gestures

Surely you’ve seen someone who ‘talks’ with their hands. It’s something—to one degree or another—that most of us do, especially when we feel strongly about the subject we are talking about. These include not just movements made with hands and arms, but also the legs, shoulders and other body parts. An example would be: Jeez! (while slapping yourself in the forehead) I should have known the answer to that question!

Exaggerate gestures for large audiences, and be certain they are in sync with your message.

Body Language

Posture: Straight, with shoulders back and chest out shows ‘confidence in your competence.’ Don’t slouch, lean or fidget when standing. Don’t put your hands in your pockets. Be ‘natural’ in your posture, which also applies when sitting before and after you speak. Consider yourself always ‘on stage.’

Body Movement

Consider yourself always ‘on stage’ here, also. Movements should be intentional and deliberate. Don’t ‘ping pong’ yourself from one spot in the room to another. (For an elevator speech, you should be standing in one place.)

Clothing

Clothing should not be distracting; rather, it should be proper and suitable for the occasion and audience. ‘Bling,’ ostentatious clothing and flashy jewelry should be avoided because they often draw away from your message.

Involuntary Nonverbal Communication

Some of the elements below can be considered voluntary, and they are if done on purpose. If not deliberately made, and done in sync with the speaker’s voice and words, they can give the audience a mixed message. People believe what they see.

For instance, I could say, I’m really enjoying meeting you and other interesting people at this event! However, if I yawn, look at my watch and don’t show enthusiasm in my gestures and expressions, what will you believe?

Examples of nonverbal communication include:

Facial Expressions: yawning, laughing, frowning, raised eyebrows, wincing and others.etc.

Gestures: fidgeting, scratching and gestures not in sync with message, like:

• Body Language (slouching, leaning and more)

• Body Movement (random and distracting)

• Clothing (stained, wrinkled, missing buttons, etc.)

Sometimes, involuntary communication can give a message we didn’t intend to deliver. Our audience might ‘see’ us as disinterested, bored, speaking out of both sides of our mouth, and worse. It’s imperative to be aware of what our nonverbal communication is ‘telling’ people. Knowing all components, parts and elements of a presentation must be in sync—and mindful of the fact our involuntary nonverbal communication could torpedo our message—will make us better speakers! Do you ‘see’ what I mean?

Bonus Tips for a Great Elevator Speech

Shake hands! A good firm handshake, held for a moment longer than normal, conveys a good message. Both ‘fish handshakes’ and ‘bone-crushers’ are absolutely unacceptable. You leave the recipient wanting to get away and never return!

Take the temperature of your audience. When you’re giving your elevator speech, you’re the only one speaking, but you’re getting feedback from those watching and listening to you. Look for eye contact, facial expressions and body language. These nonverbal communication elements will tell you whether audience is getting it. If the feedback you observe tells you they are confused by what you are saying, take it to heart and rewrite that specific part of your elevator speech.

Interact with your audience. Interacting engages the people you are speaking with increasing the odds they’ll get it. Here are some ways to do that:

• Ask questions. This activity engages people because you’re not just delivering information, you are asking for them to think about what you asked and respond.

• Get a physical interaction. For example, tell the audience: Raise your hand if you’ve had this experience before (as you speak those words, raise your hand high). Raising your hand high, gets more people raising their hands, than merely asking the question without raising my hand.

Buzz words. Every industry has buzz words, acronyms and techno-speak. Because they and their colleges always use them, they think everyone knows what those words mean. They do not. Don’t use them! You do not impress people by speaking language they don’t understand. You lose them!

The rule of three. Using ‘three’ in your elevator speech can be magic! An example from my elevator speech of the magic of the rule of three: I’m a speaker, coach and an author. Three is magic in an elevator speech and all presentations. We often use three things intuitively. Now that you aware of the power of three, you’ll consciously add an item to two you’re using, and reduce to three if parts of your presentation are four or more points.

Tag Line. Ideally, your elevator speech will have a tag line because tag lines are remembered. Recalling you, and your products and services, is a goal of a great elevator speech! For example, I end all my elevator speeches and presentations with: …absolutely, positively; there’s no doubt in my mind—no ifs, ands or doubts about it. Your elevator speech (presentation) will be - NO SWEAT!

Do you want to have a great elevator speech? I have a gift for you: a free elevator speech template and worksheet. Just visit nosweatpublicspeaking.com/go/freeelevatorspeechtemplate.

Till then, make next your presentation - NO SWEAT!

Fred Miller is the author of NO SWEAT Public Speaking! For more information, email him at Fred@NoSweatPublicSpeaking.com or visit NoSweatPublicSpeaking.com.

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