Delivery Principles and Exercises
Delivery can be broken into two categories: verbal and non-verbal.
Volume. Speak loudly enough for your entire audience to hear you. Adjust your volume to be louder or quieter to match the flow of your presentation.
Practice: Deliver your presentation at a shouting volume (without straining your voice). Then whisper it. Find somewhere in the middle as your default.
Tone. Maintain a clear, sustainable tone of voice. Avoid a squeaky pitch.
Practice: Do vocal exercises to develop better control of your tone.
Cadence. Find a rhythm that suits you and your presentation. Some talks require a slower pace while others benefit from a more rapid one.
Practice: Record yourself talking for one minute using a transcription app (we recommend Otter). Calculate your words per minute. Aim to be around 130-150 words per minute.
Filler words. Uh. Um. So. You know. These words only diminish your credibility and message. Cut them out of your vocabulary.
Practice: Deliver your remarks for a friend or colleague. Give them a bowl with pennies or marbles and instruct them to *clink* a penny in the bowl for every filler word you use.
Qualifiers. I just wanted to say. I think that. I guess. Just like fillers, these words can hurt your credibility. When you want to have high status with your audience (like when giving a speech), cut them out completely. When you want to have equal or low status with your audience (like when working as a team), you can use them sparingly to humble yourself.
Practice: Deliver your remarks for a friend or colleague. Give them a bowl with pennies or marbles and instruct them to *clink* a penny in the bowl for any qualifying language you use.
Pausing. Pauses can build suspense or make a point stronger. They also help you keep control of your communication and avoid the Runaway Train.
Practice: Deliver your presentation and pause for five seconds (count them!) after every two sentences.
Smile. A warm facial expression makes you more likable to your audience. Match your expressions to your message but default to a pleasant smile as you talk.
Practice: Take it up to 11. Deliver your presentation with a massive grin on your face.
Eye contact. Look directly into your audience's eyes as you speak. If you're speaking to a group, maintain eye contact with one person for five seconds before shifting to a different person.
Practice: Deliver your speech to yourself in the mirror. Hold consistent eye contact with yourself.
Enthusiasm. Your audience will match your energy. If you're enthusiastic, it can generate the same feeling in your listeners.
Practice: If you struggle to convey enthusiasm, take it up to 11. Go as over the top as you can.
Hand gestures. Use your hands if it feels natural to you. Large, erratic gestures can generate energy and excitement. When presenting on video, whether a TV interview or Zoom, keep your hands out of the frame.
Practice: Record yourself giving your presentation. Watch for any unusual hand movements, repetitive gestures, or awkward stiffness. Record yourself again with a focus on eliminating unhelpful body movement (or lack thereof).
Posture. Stand up straight and keep a relaxed stance. Feet shoulder-width apart.
Practice: Record yourself giving your presentation and pay close attention to your posture. Try recording from a side view as well.
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