The manner of speaking in effective presentation skills

tccstThrough the use of your voice you convey your attitude towards your subject and audience and your confidence in presenting the topic gives meaning and emphasis to the content.  A speech should be delivered with spontaneity, enthusiasm and sincerity.  These qualities cannot be conveyed by a speaker who reads his/her script.

As a speaker, you should practice delivering your talk.  In practicing you must ensure that you:

  • Speak loudly enough for the size of the venue
  • Vary your speaking rate
  • Emphasize the main points
  • Vary your pitch and volume
  • Pronounce all terms correctly
  • Use intonation to express, as well as possible, the meaning of your message
  • Use pauses frequently.

Use of pauses is essential.  The pause is to speech what white space and paragraphing are to text.  It provides the breaks between sections (introductions, discussion, etc.).  Used before or after a statement, it gives emphasis.  The rhetorical question must be followed by a pause so that the audience can consider the answer. One of the commonest faults in inexperienced speakers is not to give any, or long enough pauses, for the audience to absorb what is being said.  In particular, a speaker who naturally talks fast must make use of frequent pauses.

Finally, just as you should stand silent and compose yourself and make eye contact with your audience before starting to speak, so  you must hold the final pause at the end of your presentation.  It is a sign of disrespect to the audience if you appear to be eager to end your talk, e.g. by shuffling your papers together before the last word is out, or by deserting your spot the second you finish speaking.

Ria Vorster
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