We talk all the time about message development — clarity of and organization of message make it easier for people to listen to you. And if you do all the right things on your message plan, and then translate it into a good slide deck, the final piece of the puzzle is your delivery. Once you have the “what am I going to say” part done, then it is time to focus on the “how am I going to say it” part.
And here is an easy way to think about your delivery.
The first goal with improvement of your delivery skills is to make sure that there is nothing getting in the way of the message being heard. We have written many times in the past about eliminating distractions, and this remains a great goal. Once you have gotten the distractions out of your delivery (verbal pauses like “um,” speaking too fast, too softly, too monotone, excessive hand gestures, lack of eye contact, fidgeting body language, etc… it is a long list), then there is nothing that will get in the way of your message being heard. The distractions will detract from your message and make it hard to listen to you. But now your delivery is no longer a negative. Good job! Your delivery is essentially now a neutral element in the audience experience. Good start. But we are not done. There is more progress to be made.
Once we have gotten our skills to neutral, now we have to begin working on a set of skills that will make our delivery a positive element of the audience experience. We want our skills to actually enhance that audience experience. So, we begin working on skills that make it easier to consume the message… we work on changes to our volume, tone and speed; body language and facial expression that will channel the energy we want our audience to feel; vocabulary that will project the feeling we want to create; verbal techniques like “speaking in bullet points” that will make it easier to remember; and WIIFY phrases that will connect our audience to our message. Again… it is a long list.
But for today, let’s make it simple. As you are thinking about your own progress as a presenter and a speaker, think about your delivery skills in the following way: are your skills a negative to the audience experience? Let’s eliminate the stuff that will get in the way of our message being heard, and get our skills to at least a neutral impact. Then, once we have accomplished that, we can begin accumulating the skills that will make our delivery a positive on the audience experience. As we develop those skills, we will be playing in rarefied air, and performing at a high level.
Have a great day, and good luck!