When it comes to giving speeches, what matters is not only the actual speaking part, but also the manner in which you speak.
“Drawing is not about what you draw. It’s about what you see.”
One of the benefits of DCW is the excellent speeches we get to hear. One was delivered on Wednesday morning by one of our coaches.
Standing onstage for all to see, Curtis assumed the character of “Harry”, reciting from memory the “band of brothers” speech and then contrasting it with your typical men’s prayer breakfast welcome. He did all this to make one simple point:
What you say is just as important as how you say it.
To carry his point further, he used stories and jokes to strengthen his rationale and further illuminate his message. He shared with us the importance of having the “eye of the poet” to see illustrations in everyday life and regularly capture them for later use.
We all sat in our seats, completely enraptured by his delivery.
“There’s no such thing as a neutral gesture. Every gesture you make communicates.”
Your body talks. Little gestures like how you use your hands and what you do with your body communicate. Everything you do — from the facial gestures you use to how you make eye contact — communicates a message.
As you’re developing a speech, ask yourself the question, “Is this something I would want to watch?” Have someone watch you or watch the faces you make in the mirror as you deliver your talk. Does your face match your words? If not, change it.
One of the main takeaways from the week for me was how to find and maintain a comfortable neutral standing position, with my hands at my side.
Another was the importance of making a “connection” with one person at a time in the audience. Many speakers make the mistake of sweeping their gaze across the audience, never really making eye contact with anyone.
However, really excellent speakers don’t try to connect with everyone; they try to connect with someone. And their gestures and delivery tactics help augment the connection.
“It’s not right that we judge people by their appearance, but we do.”
How you present yourself when you deliver a speech matters. What you wear and how you look affect how people receive your message.
Simple practices like using effective lighting and dressing appropriately for your context can make a world of difference.
Before you speak, always be sure to look at yourself in the mirror to make sure there are no unnecessary distractions (e.g. a crooked collar or messed-up hair) that would prohibit communication of your message.
At the end of the day, really good speech dynamics come down to personality — to expressing your message through the vehicle of yourself.
“Without personality, you might as well just use a tape recorder.”
After learning these lessons, we all retreated to separate corners of the building, digging into our speeches that we would have to deliver that evening.
We were eager to apply these concepts of using illustrations, focusing on delivery tactics (such as raising our voices and using gestures), and paying attention to our appearance to make our speaking more dynamic.
And it worked.
In my group alone, we had the following:
- One woman (who had been rather quiet up until this moment) began her speech by talking very quietly and then shouting at the top of her lungs in the most passionate prayer I had ever heard.
- Another made good use of intentional movement, filling the space with purposeful steps.
- Another used props and outlandish gestures to exaggerate an important point.
It’s in the name of the conference for a reason — dynamics can make or break a good speech.
How have you seen dynamics used successfully to make a speech more interesting?
~Jeff Goins (DCW student, 2011)
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