Toastmasters Project #5: Your Body Speaks
Project Goals: Your aims for this speech project are to complement your message with your body during delivery. Specifically, be aware of your:
- body movement,
- facial expressions, and
- eye contact.
Delivered 6/14/17 | Awarded Best Speaker Ribbon
Good afternoon fellow Toastmasters and guests. I have a question for you and I’m sure you get this ALL the time. What do gravity, brain signals, and Humpty Dumpty have in common?
All three can help you become a better speaker.
In the audiobook, Speak: So Your Audience Will Listen, the author, Robin Kermode, provides 7 steps to become a confident and successful speaker. Today, I want to tell you about 3 of the most impactful and unique lessons that I learned from the audiobook. 1) How to appear more confident. 2) How to overcome nerves. And 3) How to sound authentic and believable.
Kermode tells us that if you practice appearing more confident, you will become more confident. What he means by that is that you have to kind of “fake it until you make it.” There’s an exercise that you can do that will help you accomplish this. But, before I show you the exercise, think about what physical attribute confident people have in common? After hearing it from the author, I spent some time observing and thinking about the confident people in my life and I noticed this about them too – They have a low center of gravity.
Watch, I’m going to walk across the room as if a string was pulling me from my shoulders – as if I had a high center of gravity. *Demonstrate*
Now, I’m going to walk across the floor as if a string was pulling me from my hips – as if I had a low center of gravity. *Demonstrate*
Do you see the difference? You can appear more confident if you concentrate on having a low center of gravity. Practice this when you’re walking down the halls of work, when you’re in the grocery store, and especially when you walk up here to give a speech. Focus on having a lower center of gravity and notice how you feel more confident.
But, what do we do about nerves? First, we need to understand why we get nervous.
It’s because of our Fight or Flight responses. It’s the physiological reaction to a perceived threat of survival. The brain signals that make your heart beat faster, your mouth dry, your eyes dart around the room looking for an escape. They make you shake. But, there’s an exercise for this too. Are you ready for it? Squeeze your glutes. That’s right. Apparently, you can’t shake when you squeeze your glutes. I know, it’s silly. But, no one will know you’re doing it AND it will lower your center of gravity so you feel more confident.
There are other things you can do before you speak, like simple breathing exercises that will lower your heart rate. Breathe in through your nose for three seconds, and out for three seconds. *Demonstrate*
Now, our voice. We sound more believable and authentic if we speak with our natural voice. But, when we’re nervous or in front of a group we tend to speak from our tightened throat or chest. I learned from Kermode’s audiobook that if we can open our throat, our voice will come from our gut–our emotional center. And if we can speak from our emotional center than our voice will sound more natural and therefore be more authentic and believable.
So, how do we open our throat? We can do the following ridiculous exercise before a speech or even before we make a phone call. I’m going to show it you and you will all think I’m the silliest person in the world. Don’t laugh. Okay, you can laugh. Here’s the exercise. I’m going to stick out my tongue as far as I can and recite Humpty Dumpty as clearly as I can. Ready? *Stick out tongue* Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall…Okay, that’s enough. You get the idea.
Robin Kermode’s audiobook, Speak: So Your Audience Will Listen, is a funny, entertaining, and helpful resource for all of us that want to improve our public speaking skills. I only went over 3 of the 7 steps he discussed. There’s so much more that he goes over. The author was the narrator and he made the exercises so much fun. Yes, he’s funny for sure, but he’s also one of Europe’s leading communication coaches and he’s a film actor. So we can trust him.
I encourage all of you to download this audiobook for yourself to learn more about how a low center of gravity can improve your confidence, how understanding how your brain signals work and squeezing your glutes can calm you when you’re nervous, and how reciting a ridiculous rendition of Humpty Dumpty and speaking from your gut can give you a more authentic voice. I know you will like it.
Thank you very much.