ONE area where I struggled starting my own business was in public speaking, giving sales pitches and presentations. When you are nervous you tend to speak faster and this makes it difficult for your audience to hear what you are saying.
We can use a lot of filler words such as 'like', 'um', 'so' and 'ah'. These are very common. What you need to practice is silent pauses.
When you are asked a question, take five seconds to gather your thoughts. Can you recall any wedding speech where the speaker was nervous and rushed the speech leaving you not getting a word of it?
I remember thinking, some people are born to stand up and speak but little did I realise that it is a skill you can practice and improve.
I was very fortunate to listen to a Ted Talk from a guy name Danish Dhamani who is the founder of an app called Orai, which stands for Oral Artificial Intelligence. He gave an inspiring talk of how he was so shy as a kid and found it so hard to speak in public.
He has devoted his life to helping others improve their public speaking.
The Orai app gives instant feedback, can tell you your words per minute, how many filler words you used and what they were, rates you on clarity, tone, and energy, and records you so you can review your speech.
There are a series of lessons you can work through on the app to help you improve and practice. This is all available for free. There is a limit on how long it will record you and give you feedback.
I have since purchased the app so that I can record my future presentations and get instant feedback so that I can learn and improve. You can practice anything, anytime. I love the app and it gives you real and objective feedback - your friends and family may have a bias. It would be very hard for you to do a word per minute count also.
The ProPlan works out at €10.90 per month.
The power of the pause
A good range of speed is 140 to 160 words per minute (wpm) - anything faster makes it difficult to hear and understand. It is important to pronounce the syllables of each word clearly.
The power of the pause cannot be overrated. A well timed pause gives great effect to what you are saying and lets the listener absorb your point. In Barack Obama’s farewell speech his wpm was 112 - he used his pauses comfortably.
To communicate well it is important to give a clear and concise message and not overload what you wish to say with too many words - less is more.
Please feel free to send me a business advice question to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will cover the topic here.
Lisa Clarken, B.Comm, MBS FS, ACCA, Streamline Consulting – Business Efficiency Solutions
* Read Talking Business with Lisa Clarken every Tuesday in The Connaught Telegraph print edition