10 Delivery Guidelines for Speaking with Impact

Even the greatest content/message will be ruined by a poor delivery. So often speakers work diligantly on what they’re going to say but they fail to connect because of how they’re saying it. The following 10 Delivery Guidelines will help you use your delivery to deepen, rather than damage, your connection.

1. Don’t move all the time

If you are always moving then no movement will be meaningful. Your audience will never know what’s most important. Move with a purpose. When there is no reason to move, don’t.

 What’s the main purpose for moving during your speech?

It’s the action in your story. Let the action in your story prompt your movement on stage. If you have a story in which you move from the living room to the kitchen, show that movement on stage. That means you must have designated spots for the kitchen and for the living room on your stage. And those spots must stay there for the length of that particular story. Listen to what might happen if they don’t.

[audio:https://craigvalentine.com/wp-content/uploads/Lunch-on-Uncle-.mp3|titles=Lunch on Uncle]

2. Don’t forget about your face

Your facial expressions are more important than all your arm and hand movements combined. The eyes are indeed the windows to the soul. What you do with them can make or break your entire speech.

3. Use your character’s gestures

Keep in mind that speaking involves utilizing captivating stories to make your unforgettable points. Each story has its own characters and each character probably has his or her own way of gesturing. When you take on the role and persona of that character, you should use his or her gestures. While rehearsing your speech, consistently ask yourself, “How would this character say this?” In other words, every character should not look and act like you. Each character should act differently, because that will help us see those characters with greater clarity. So again, keep asking:

How would this character say this?


4. Let the emotions drive

The emotions in your story and in your point will drive your movements. If you are intoxicated with your emotions while telling your story or making your point, the appropriate gestures will come. It will be effortless. Think about it. When you’re really angry at someone or something, do you have to think about what gestures to use? No, they come automatically. If you build the emotion, the gestures will come.

5. Use Surround-Sense Gestures (360 Degrees)

Many speakers gesture in front of them and maybe on the side. The most effective speakers realize there is an entire area around them and they utilize it. Feel free to gesture down for the lower dimension. For example, when I speak about a swamp tour my wife and I took, I talk about the alligators that surrounded the boat. At that point I gesture downwards with the open hand while looking at where the water is designated on stage. Then I describe the trees that were hanging down as if they were trying to grab onto us. At that point I gesture upwards to the upper dimension using my hands to emulate how the trees hung and swayed. At times I point behind me to the back of the stage or in front of me out into the audience. I might point to my right to signify the past and point to my left to signify the future as I use the stage as a timeline. The key is to go up, down, back, forth, and side to side in order to paint a whole (surround-sense) scene for your audience in order to invite them into it.

6. Don’t use the same gesture over and over again

This is evidence of a habit and most likely distracts from your presentation. Ask me how I know this!

7. Watch out for your resting position

This is the position your hands fall to when you’re not using a gesture. For example, my hands used to fall together in front of me with my fingers interlocking. In time it became distracting. Definitely film your speeches every now and then to see if you’re falling into this habit. It helps to turn off the sound and then fast-forward the video because if you’re using a resting point, it will become very evident.

8. Use an open hand

It’s better to point to your audience with an open hand rather than an index finger. It’s less threatening and more inviting. The open hand is also effective when calling back to spots on the floor as you revisit the points, characters, and stories you previously used. A body language expert recently told me that palms up are much more welcoming than palms down as you deliver your message and especially when you point to someone in your audience. Apparently palms down can have a condescending effect.

9. Use bigger gestures for bigger audiences

Don’t mismatch the size of your audience with the size of your gestures. If you’re speaking at a Commencement Ceremony to 4,000 people and you give the same sized gestures that you do in front of a Toastmasters Club, chances are your audience won’t see them. When the audience gets bigger, you must get bigger.

 Also, make sure you match their energy at first. For example, if you have a laid back audience, you can’t come out screaming and excited, because they’ll be looking for the nearest exit. Instead, meet them on their energy level and then, once you connect with them there, they will follow you to your natural energy level. It’s called Pacing and Leading. You must intially meet them where they are, not where you are.

10. Smile

Often the first thing to go when a speaker gets on stage is his or her smile. That’s unfortunate because the smile can connect you with your audience before you even say one word. So smile…when appropriate!

Craig Valentine

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