Public Speaking – Talking To Your Audience Not At Them

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While the majority of those learning how to deliver a dynamic speech tend to express too little emotion, there are those few who actually emote in which they express too much emotion for the given situation. Emoting is acting; delivering a speech is not. Your objective in your speech is to ‘straddle the fence’ in which you are neither expressing too much emotion not too little.

And, in this particular instance, I am talking about the speech versus the presentation. Those who emote tend to be reading their words as in a speech. Those who are giving presentations are speaking around their notes and emoting is generally not heard in this type of delivery.

[The one time when I advocate emoting is when you are reading to your children at night. By all means, emote away! Exaggerate your facial expressions, play with your words, and be extremely colorful in your reading. Your children will enjoy it so much more.]

What is fascinating about emoting is that it often occurs by those who enjoy words, especially those who enjoy writing their own words and like hearing their own words. Of course I have certainly heard this style of delivery from those who are enamored by someone else’s words as well!

How do you know if you are emoting versus delivering a dynamic speech? First, you must analyze your delivery. Record yourself by means of video. If you do not have a camcorder, audio will suffice. Play it back: listen carefully to your voice. If using video, watch your facial expressions as well. Be very critical in your assessment. Do you sound and look natural? Or do you sound like you are acting on a stage?

My late mother was a prime example of too much expression. Because of her blindness, my mother’s other senses were extremely sensitive and her memory was uncanny. She would memorize the Psalms and then recite them at various gatherings. In delivering them, however, she sounded like she was acting on a stage. Having done a lot of community theater before her blindness, my mother was a talented actress; however, she mistakenly emoted the Psalms instead of reciting them. The result was that it sounded fake, not natural.

The question remains as to how you should stop the emoting. The remedy is actually very simple. Be yourself. The problem for those who are overly expressive is that they are either trying to impress their audience or they are attempting to make up for a lack of expression. In the latter case, they have been standing on one side of the fence and now are on the other side, unsure of their middle ground. For these people, who have difficulty expressing emotion in their daily lives, in attempting to be expressive, they actually go too far.

And this is where it gets a bit confusing. If, for example, you are looking to ‘wow’ your audience, stop trying to impress them. Looking, acting, and sounding natural is more of a ‘wow’ than trying to be something or someone you are not. (Remember, when you act, you are portraying someone else.) Treat your listeners just as if you were having a conversation in your living room. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is.

When you can learn to talk to your audience and not at them, your expression will come through as it should and you will be straddling the fence, not too far on one side or the other.



The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offer private, corporate and group sessions in voice training and public speaking as well as Voicing It! the only video training course on voice improvement. For more information go to:

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