10 Ways to Improve your Speech Delivery

Below are some well-known and some not-so-well-known tips for delivering your speech. The key is not whether you know these tips; it’s whether you put them into practice.

1. Don’t forget about your face. Your facial expressions are more important than all your arm and hand movements combined. The eyes are indeed the windows to the soul. What you do with them can make or break your entire speech.

2. Use your character’s gestures. Keep in mind that speaking involves utilizing captivating stories to make your unforgettable points. Each story has its own characters and each character probably has his or her own way of gesturing. When you take on the role and persona of that character, you should use his or her gestures. While rehearsing your speech, consistently ask yourself, “How would this character say this?”

3. Let the emotions drive. The emotions in your story and in your point will drive your movements. If you are intoxicated with your emotions while telling your story or making your point, the appropriate gestures will come. It will be effortless. When you’re really angry at someone or something, do you have to think about what gestures to use? No, they come automatically. If you build the emotion, the gestures will come.

4. Gesture 360 Degrees. Many speakers gesture in front of them and on the side. World Class Speakers realize there is an entire area around them and they utilize it. Feel free to gesture down for the lower dimension. For example, when I speak about a swamp tour my wife and I took, I talk about the alligators that surrounded the boat. At that point I gesture downwards with the open hand. Then I describe the trees that were hanging down as if they were trying to grab onto us. At that point I gesture upwards to the upper dimension using my hands to emulate how the trees hung and swayed. At times I point behind me to the back of the stage or in front of me out into the audience. I might point to my right to signify the past and point to my left to signify the future as I use the stage as a timeline. The key is to go up, down, back, forth, and side to side in order to paint a whole (surround-sense) scene for your audience in order to invite them into it.

5. Don’t use the same gesture over and over again. This is evidence of a habit and most likely distracts from your presentation.

6. Watch out for your resting position. This is the position your hands fall to when you’re not using a gesture. For example, my hands used to fall together in front of me with my fingers interlocking. It was distracting.

7. Don’t move all the time. If you are always moving then no movement will be meaningful. Your audience will never know what’s most important. Move with a purpose. When there is no reason to move, don’t.

8. Use an open hand. It’s better to point to your audience with an open hand rather than an index finger. It’s less threatening and more inviting. The open hand is also effective when calling back to spots on the floor as you revisit the points, characters, and stories you previously used.
9. Use bigger gestures for bigger audiences. Don’t mismatch the size of your audience with the size of your gestures.

10. Smile.

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