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Management tips: Public speaking

Judy Apps

Speaking in public can be dating for even the most professional and confident managers. Edge asks voice coach Judy Apps for her top tips

If you give yourself time to think and breathe, and then speak steadily, people will understand you better

Whether you’re giving a presentation or just want to communicate your point effectively, it’s important to pay attention to the power of your voice. Judy Apps, professional voice coach and author of Voice & Speaking Skills for Dummies, offers 10 key tips.

1) Relax

Soften your knees and loosen your jaw. The biggest enemy of a good voice is tension. Relaxation allows your voice to ring out. Think of sounding a bell – it only makes a big sound if it hangs freely. You too!

2) Breathe deeply

Sigh deeply – ahhhh – and then let the next breath enter low in your body. That’s a great breath for speaking well. If you're ever stuck, take a good breath. Most of the things that go wrong with your voice are due to breathing inadequately.
 

3) Slow down

If you give yourself time to think and breathe, and then speak steadily, people will understand you better – and you’ll sound more confident and authoritative.

4) Emphasise

If you emphasise key words you’ll sound much more interesting and people will follow your argument better. Listen to the strong emphasis of successful newsreaders.

5) Don’t tail off…

End each idea strongly on a lower pitch. It sounds final and confident and gives you gravitas. Tailing off on the other hand makes you sound uncertain.

If you want to be heard, intend to be heard. Being heard is more a mental issue than a physical one.
Judy Apps, author of Voice & Speaking Skills for Dummies

6) Pitch perfect

Vary your pitch. Speaking in a monotone is mono-tonous, and sends your audience to sleep. Raise your voice higher to show enthusiasm, make a serious point on a low pitch, use a softer tone to show empathy. Your voice will do this naturally if it is free of tension.

7) Enjoy

Entertain yourself – give yourself a good time. If you aren’t interested in what you are saying, why on earth should anyone else be? If you haven't got a sexy subject to talk about, think about ways that you can make it lively.

8) Be heard

If you want to be heard, intend to be heard. Being heard is more a mental issue than a physical one. You’d soon make yourself heard if you needed to call for help in an emergency, wouldn’t you?

9) Be yourself

Don’t put on an act or pretend to be something you’re not. Your voice sounds most powerful when you are yourself – even if you feel rather vulnerable. And people can tell the difference.

10) Passion

Get into feeling – feel passionate, feel enthusiastic, feel determined, feel empathetic. Feeling shows up in the voice, and it catches on in your audience.  People will forget your words; they will never forget how you made them feel.

Voice & Speaking Skills for Dummies by Judy Apps is out now.

    Comments

  • Abigail Malia

    'Speaking in public can be dating'. Dating? Daunting?  


  • Thomas Hall

    One of the best ways to give yourself confidence when getting ready to speak publicly, is to practice and prepare thoroughly. Once you have what you think is a good model for the lecture or talk, rehearse it and learn it.  Beware though of self-rumination over your lecture - once you've rehearsed and are happy, relax and try to forget about it until just before the event.


  • Brian Hunt

    One of the best things you can do is join your local branch of Toastmasters International (www.toastmasters.org/ Their progressive training in public speaking is within a supportive environment and is excellent.

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