Pause; and Punch – Your Public Speaking Tip of the day

The Delivery Part requires a lot of practice (rehearsal) with deliberate practice/work on specific elements.  Start with your posture.  Then your voice.  Then your eye contact.  Then your gestures.
{Invention: invention involves finding something to say.  HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY!
Delivery: Delivery concerns itself with how something is said.  SAY IT VERY WELL!}
From my earlier blog post, 2 Ways to Guarantee a Failed Presentation

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Here’s one key rule for speakers: NEVER SPEAK IN A MONOTONE!  This post teaches a specific skill to help you not speak in a monotone.

I present a workshop titled simply Executive Public Speaking.  And I also teach speech at the community college level. I have the full spectrum of speech students. Some are very nervous, and they have difficulty getting through their speeches.  Others are very good, in every way, from what they say (what Aristotle called Invention) to how they deliver their speech (what Aristotle called Delivery).

Here is a really common problem, with a quite workable solution.  Many people have not learned how to pause between key words and key phrases. They say every word, every phrase, pretty much at the same pace, and the same volume, in the same way.  In other words, they speak in a monotone. Not good!

Yes, it is possible to have pauses that last too long.  But many (maybe most) speakers do not pause enough. And when they do, they don’t follow it with a “punch” of the next phrase.  Learning how to pause with just a short pause in order to emphasize (punch) a key word or phrase takes a lot of practice.  And, how you mark up your notes will help you learn to do this more effectively.

I call this technique “Pause; and Punch.”  Pause just before a key word, or phrase, and then verbally emphasize that next word or phrase with verbal punch.

For example, take a look at these familiar paragraphs from Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream:

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

When Dr. King spoke these words, he inserted slight pauses that helped him “punch” the key phrases.  If we marked it to speak, it might look like this. (Note: / = pause; and — = pause):

 

I have a dream / that one day on the red hills of Georgia, / the sons of former slaves — and the sons of former slave owners — will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that my four little children / will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin / but by the content of their character.

Until this Pause; and Punch becomes second nature, it is a very good practice to mark up your speaking notes with many such marks.  Practice, practice, practice; rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

Learn to Pause; and Punch. This will help you never speak in a monotone, and thus it is one of the most important skills to learn to become a better, more effective speaker.

 

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