It’s a good time to review speaking habits that make it EASIER for your audience to hear, retain, and act on your message.
1. KISS is a good place to start: Keep it simple and short. Use familiar and easy-to-follow words and short sentences. Use language that is straight-forward.
2. Repeat key words and phrases. Repetition is the key to memory. But also make sure you’re engaging.
3. Use transitions. Make sure they connect what you just said with what you’re about to say.
Example: Now, that you see why this is important, let’s look at how it works.
4. Organize your message. This helps the audience retain information. The Rule of 3 is useful here.
5. Aim for audience interaction every 5 minutes. Ask a question or post a poll.
6. Avoid jargon and acronyms, unless it’s known to be familiar to the audience.
7. Be concise. Attention spans are minimal. Make it shorter.
8. Be conversational.
9. Appeal to the 5 senses. How does this message feel? What does the result look like? What should they hear? Can they touch it? Is there a smell to invoke?
Example: This is what success looks like for this project.
Example: I get the feeling you are nervous about this move.
Example: What we want to hear from our clients is that they love this new tool.
10. Use figures of speech like similes, metaphors and other analogies. In other words, relate the unknown, that new thing you’re explaining, to something they do know.
An analogy is a comparison between two things, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification. Similes and metaphors are types of analogies.
A simile is a comparison using the words “like” or “as”.
Example: The new product manager is crazy like a fox.
Example: His presentation was as engaging as paint drying on the wall.
A metaphor is a direct comparison stating one thing as another thing. Metaphors are not to be taken literally.
Example: The carpet in my office is an extreme health hazard.
Example: Henry is a complete chicken.
11. Use good grammar! It’s not about being elitist. It’s about being clear and not distracting people with sloppy sentences.
12. Raise the volume. Louder sounds more confident. Especially for virtual meetings, speaking louder makes it easier for others to hear and understand what you’re saying.
13. Avoid hedging your statements like “I feel like” or “I could be wrong but”. Hedges introduce doubt about you.
In short, a little bit of preparation for your meetings, presentations, and high-stakes conversations pays off in less friction and less confusion.