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Obviously, delivery is not everything in public speaking. A good delivery cannot compensate for a poorly prepared message, or one lacking in substance. Despite that, most of us know the significance of delivery, and at times it scares us.

Visual Delivery

Because the first impression comes more from what the audience see than from what they hear, we will first talk about visual delivery – particularly, how to appear to your audience. As a public speaker, your physical appearance, clothing, posture, facial expressions, eye contact, body movements, and gestures all influence your audience’s perception.

The audience judges your appearance as a hint to your position, credibility, and knowledge. The safest thing to do is to dress conservatively.

Good posture is nothing more than standing straight and having your “chest out” and “stomach in.” Proper posture makes the speaker look and feel comfortable, and aids voice projection and poise.

Move around occasionally.

Body movement can add interest, energy, and confidence to your presentation. To add emphasis, try moving at the beginning of an idea or at a transition between ideas. If you are using a projector and slides, be sure what is shown coincides with what you are saying.

Gestures are movements of the hands, arms, head, and the shoulders to help you communicate. They play an important role in presenting but they must enhance communication and not hinder it. Try making the gestures when rehearsing a speech. Practice before a mirror, even to the point of exaggerating. Then adapt your gestures to a point where they are appropriate and natural. However, gestures should be spontaneous. Too many gestures may distract the audience.

One kind of gesture is facial expression. This reveals your attitudes and feelings. Let your face glow with happiness or burn with enthusiasm. Avoid wearing the deadpan poker face that reveals nothing. This doesn’t mean that you will always give vent to your feelings in a bombastic and extravagant manner. A good speaker expresses views and feelings with appropriate restraint.

Eye contact is a very important factor in getting and holding attention. Look at your listeners directly, not above them or at the floor or ceiling or out of the window; otherwise, you lose your contact with your audience and their attention strays off.

Here are some questions you might consider in order to guide your visual delivery:

· Do I gesture enough? Too much?

· Does my body movement reinforce the flow of my speech?

· Are my gestures disturbing in any way?

· Am I depending so much on any one gesture?

· Does my face express the meaning or feeling I am trying to convey?

· Are there different gestures, body movements, or facial expressions that might express my intended

meaning more effectively?

Vocal Delivery- Sounds have four fundamental characteristics: volume, pitch, rate, and quality. If any of these is faulty, distraction results. Important announcements are uttered in a slow manner and with a relatively low pitch, whereas jokes or other light remarks are uttered in a rapid fashion with a relatively higher pitch.

Volume

A well-modulated voice is important to be an effective speaker. There is no hard and fast rule about the degree of loudness that should be used on different occasions, but an effective voice must be as loud as the specific speaking situation requires.

If you are speaking to a group, every member of the audience with normal hearing and concentration should be able to understand your statements without straining their ears and without getting irritated because of an excessively loud voice. Good speakers fit voice and actions to the words used, to the situation, and to their personalities.

An important principle in speaking clearly is that consonants should be pronounced well. Vowels are easier to pronounce, yet consonants give intelligibility to speech. A voice that is dominated by intellect rather than emotion tends to be moderate in pitch as well as in loudness. This does

not imply that intellectual efforts are devoid of feeling. It just implies that intellectual efforts accompanied by vocalization are not normally characterized by the exaggerated range and intensity of feeling exhibited in emotional behaviour alone.

Pitch

Pitch is the general level on a musical scale of the voice in speech. Pitch may either be high, medium, or low; or we may use such terms as soprano, alto, baritone, or bass for vocal pitch.

Natural pitch in speaking is important for an effective voice. One who speaks unnaturally will be ineffective, disagreeable, and uncomfortable formats.

Rate

There are three rates or tempos in speaking – slow, average, and fast. Changes in rate can be achieved by the rate of articulation or by the use of pauses. The use of pauses is a very useful technique for separating or grouping phrases, for creating dramatic effects, and for emphasizing ideas.

As a general rule, the use of a comma is a sign for the reader or speaker to pause. But in some instances, long sentences without commas should also be divided according to thought content by a pause to give time for breathing and for the listener to grasp fully what is being read or said.

Dramatic effect can be achieved by speakers who pause after a rising inflection, thereby creating suspense; after which the expected outcome follows to the satisfaction of their listeners.

Quality

Voice characteristics (or voice timbre) and voice attitudes (or voice colour) come under the general term of voice quality.

What is voice quality? Vocal quality is related to resonance and to the avoidance of undesirable vocal aspects such as excessive nasality and breathing. It is also related to feeling and mood.

Verbal Delivery

Besides being greatly conscious of your visual delivery (you and your visual aids) and vocal delivery (your manner of speaking), the audience will focus on your verbal delivery (the language you use and the way you construct sentences).

Listeners prefer speakers who use a more informal language than what is usual for written reports. Moreover, it is absolutely acceptable to use personal pronouns such as I, we, you, and us and contractions such as I’m and don’t – forms that are frequently avoided in formal written reports.

One mistake is to use long or extremely technical terms or jargon to impress the audience. Even though you are speaking in a professional setting, don’t think that your listeners use or understand the same technical words or jargon that you do. The best language is vivid and colourful (paints a picture for the audience), concrete and specific (gives details), and simple (is easy to understand).

 


About The Author


Simon Bonner, Associate Director at Aaron Wallis

Simon Bonner

Associate Director at Aaron Wallis Recruitment

Simon is an Associate Director of Aaron Wallis, a national recruitment agency specialising in sourcing sales and marketing staff. Prior to joining Aaron Wallis, Simon spent 10 years selling electronic security products and before this was a National Account Manager for one of the UK's largest recruitment groups.

 

In his two roles within recruitment, Simon has spent over a decade recruiting sales professionals for both blue-chip businesses and SMEs, giving him a wealth of experience to guide both candidates and employers through their recruitment journeys.  

Find out more about Simon here.

 

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