Have you ever listened to that person who says something like “um” over and over and over? After a while, all you hear are the “ums.”
How about the person who says “like,” or “you know?” Distracting, right?
How about the person who qualifies everything they say with a “sort of” or a “kind of” or a “pretty much”? You’re never quite sure what they are confident about, because they hedge everything.
How about the person who speaks really fast, and never seems to take a breath? Exhausting to listen to, and almost impossible to retain anything they say.
How about the person whose voice is so monotone that you literally can’t keep your eyes open? Their voice is like taking a sleeping pill.
All of these speech behaviors, and many more, are forms of distraction for your audience. And anything that distracts your audience from actually listening to, and hearing, your message, is a bad thing.
The best speakers do lots of things well. But chief among them is that their speaking style doesn’t make the audience work really hard, and doesn’t distract away from the message. So how do you make sure your speaking style doesn’t get in the way?
Here are some quick ideas:
First, when someone you trust listens to you, ask them this question: “Is there anything in my speaking style that you don’t like or that distracts you?” And if the person is going to be honest with you, you’ll get some great feedback.
Second, record yourself when you speak, and ask yourself the same question. Listen for the verbal pauses, the repetitive words, or anything on the list above. And start to track how frequently you are doing this. The more you listen to yourself, and the more you track the behavior, the more awareness you will have, which will allow you to make some change.
And of course, if the problem is really bad, or if you try to solve it yourself and cannot, you can always look for a coach.
We spend a lot of time at The Latimer Group talking about message development and content. Content is the foundation for, and in many ways the most important aspect of, your communication. But on top of good content, the best speakers also have strong delivery and speaking styles that don’t distract the audience. If you’ve worked really hard to craft a good message, you don’t want your speaking style to undermine the great content you worked so hard to create.
Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?
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