The session is beginning. Your turn has come. And you rise to speak – to introduce yourself and state your position.
Are you just conveying preliminary information? Or is there more?
In fact, you are setting the stage for all that will happen throughout the session.
As you speak, the other delegates are making an assessment of you. Are you confident? Are you strong – or are you weak? Do you sound sincere? Can you be trusted? Is your position compelling? Can they work with you? Can they control you?
This assessment doesn’t just happen at the Model United Nations. It happens every day. And will continue to happen day after day after day. This is real life.
All too often we think that the words that we use are the sum total of our communication. We try to chose our words wisely (a good goal), but we don’t realize that how we say those words also has a major impact on our effectiveness.
We convey information with our words, but we convey so much more with how we say those words. Yet, all too often, what we are conveying is that we are either not confident in our information, that we are not confident in ourselves, or that we just don’t care about what we are doing.
As a professional speaker and narrator, I am deeply aware of the effect that our delivery has on our communication. As a speech delivery trainer and coach, I work with presenters to help them increase the effectiveness of their message. Here are three techniques that I have learned that may help you.
First, be more expressive. Make your delivery “bigger.” Add some energy. Make the highs a little higher and the lows a little lower.
You might be thinking “I can’t do that. What will the other delegates think? I don’t want to sound weird.” I learned early in my voice-over days that your listeners perceive you as being less expressive than you think you are. I have an audio studio in my home. A number of years ago I was working on a project for a network marketing company. Their top leaders would phone in and give a short pitch on why people should join their business. I then edited the segments into a telephone hotline. (today we would use the internet, but, as I said, it was a “number” of years ago.) In each case, I had them give me several takes until I got one that would work. They were usable, but not what I wanted. I then said, “great, I have one that we can use. Now let’s have some fun. Give me one take where you go way over the top. Go crazy.” In each case this was the one that I used. It wasn’t because it sounded hypie, it did not. It was the only one that sounded real. That sounded like they believed what they were saying.
Do not be afraid to push it. Practice with some friends. They will tell you when you have gone too far.
My second tip is to slow down in your delivery.
People have a tendency to talk at a high rate of speed. This can have a major impact on the effectiveness of your speech.
Just like you can speak on a large or a small stage, your words are spoken on a stage that can be large or small. That is defined by what I call the thickness of your words – the duration of the sounds that make up your words. If you speak quickly, your words are, of necessity, short and thereby thin. If you speak at a slower speed, you can let your sounds take up more time, giving them a bigger stage. Why is that important?
There are two types of communication within the spoken word, the literal meaning and the emotional meaning. By “emotional” I am not referring to crying, although that may be involved. It can also be urgency, calmness, excitement, or any number of other emotions. Those emotions are primarily conveyed in the thickness of your words. And why is that important?
I like how David Hoffeld puts it in his book, The Science of Selling. Strong vocal expression “produces in others the emotions that you are conveying.” In your presentations at MUN, you are looking to not only convey facts, you are looking to convey how you feel about your position. If you feel strongly about an issue, you want them to feel the same way, don’t you? Giving your words a bigger stage enables you to do that. And the way you give your words a bigger stage is by slowing down and giving your words duration.
The third tip is to watch how you end your sentences.
All too often I hear speakers end all of their sentences the same way, by lowering their pitch. That sounds repetitive, robotic, and rehearsed. We don’t normally talk that way. Frequently the pitch at the end of our sentences go up. This is usually because the last word is the most important in the entire sentence. It may also indicate a greater emotion.
Let your sentence endings be natural.
Record yourself as you practice. Listen to your sentence endings. If they are all the same, work to change that. I suggest that you sit down with a friend and just say the words like in normal conversation. Record yourself. Then see how you voiced those words. That is how you should say them in your presentation.
Your words are important, but so is how you say them. Most speakers at your MUN events will have well crafted scripts. But you can set yourself apart from the rest by establishing a stronger image by being more expressive, slowing down to give your words duration, and ending your sentences with true expression.
Bill Brown is a speech delivery coach living in Las Vegas, Nevada. If you want to learn more, you can sign up for his speech delivery tips at www.billbrownspeechcoach.com