By Ginny Pulos
In order to hold people’s interest in a conversation face-to-face, on the phone or in presentations, use vocal variety and vocal energy.  We don’t have a paper with bolds, indents, numbers and italics to guide us, but we do have your voice.  Here are a few key tips to utilize to maximize the impact of your voice and avoid the pitfalls of speaking.
1.  Project your voice like a firm handshake.  There’s nothing worse than having to work at trying to hear someone in a a conversation.  Most people are afraid of the sound of their voices.  If you recognize yourself in this description, try reading aloud into your smart phone perhaps ten minutes a day — every day — to get used to the sound of your projected voice. Everyone should be able to project his/her voice easily enough to fill a room at least 15 feet across for an extended period of time.
2.  In addition to reading aloud daily, use the voice of authority when speaking.  For women especially this is important.  Speak in your lower middle range — even when adding volume.  If you don’t know where this “power voice” lies, try saying the word “right”  like “I got it.”  a few times and you’ll hear it for yourself.  Then match that voice when reading aloud and projecting.  Also, go down in pitch at the ends of questions or statements.  Avoid the singsongy speaking pattern of a “Valley Girl” or a “Surfer Guy.”
3.  Using pauses — especially before an important fact or statistic, before you quote someone, or before you give a price.  This helps people to actually hear what you’re saying, rather than have it fly by like Muzak in an elevator.  It also helps your listener if you pause after a series — by that I mean anything with commas.  “We have red, green and blue Buicks”  should be spoken”  “We have red// green// and blue Buicks”///.  Buy far, the most conversational strength I see abused is that people don’t pause after a sentence — but rush right on.   This diminshes you, your research, your authority, your professionalism — and people’s ability to “hear” you.
4.  Consider your pace.  The best-paid speakers in the U. S. speak between 140 and 170 workds per minute.  If you happen to live on the east coast (where almost no one speaks within this range), and you give a presentation in Atlanta, or Texas, your audience will think you’re a fast-talking, slick New Yorker trying to pull one over on them. This will undermine your credibility and your audience’s ability to trust you. Also, avoid rapid fire questions because they cause confusion and ambiguity.  Again, the solution is to practice reading aloud — with a stopwatch — counting the number of words you’ve read during one minute.  You’ll find that as you get down 
5.  The next tip is to speak with vocal variety.    If you speak in a monotone, you’ll sound like one of the Coneheads.  Instead try to vary the highs and lows to maintain interest.  If you do have chronic monotone in your voice, you might also try joining a singing group or chorus.  There’s nothing like singing exercise this strength and to make you fall in love with the highs and lows of your own voice, you might also try joining a singing group or chorus.  There’s nothing like singing exercise this strength and to make you fall in love with the highs and lows of your own voice.                                
6.  Reduce your use of vocal fillers — the “ums,” the “likes” the  “you knows”.  They’re deadly and the result of speaking faster than you can think.  Nothing will bore a listener faster than to have lots of “um’s” in a conversation.  To solve this problem, have someone put jellybeans in a pile every time you use a speech padder.  When they move a jellybean toward you, stop, and, in silence, rephrase what you were going to say and start over.  Often, just slowing down a little bit can alleviate this problem.
7.  And, Finally, use simple, 50¢-words, not $1.50 ones.  Especially in the broker community — even on financial TV — the financial community seems to relish using acronyms and financial jargon — thus, leaving a huge portion of their audience out.  (Who are they communicating to?  Each other?) Always know and consider your audience.  No one is going to raise their hand and say they don’t understand, so know your audience.  I always like to think of great communicators like Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton.  Whether speaking to a head of state, or to the nation on TV, hey both consistently used simple language, thereby including all of us in their conversations.
Remember, your job is more than margins, market share and the bottom line.  These simple steps can help you maximize effective conversation.  Utilize them and they can be your keys to personal and professional success.

Ginny Pulos is president of Ginny Pulos Communications, Inc., a speech and media consultancy, and adjunct professor at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. She is an expert in presentation, storytelling and persuasion in corporate environments.r (www.ginnypulos.com). 

For more tips on speaking with confidence check our other blog posts. We welcome you to subscribe to our posts and the Ginny Pulos Communications Facebook page.

Reprinted by permission: Newsday.com article by Patricia Kitchen, with extensive quotations from Ginny Pulos

Write to all those who helped you along the way to let them know: what job you accepted, what you’ll be doing, when you start, your new contact information and, most important, how much you appreciate their role in bringing about this good news.

Yes, it takes time and effort. And yes, most people don’t do it. But that’s why most people don’t stand out. Yet sending such a communique tells so much about you: It shows you are gracious and appreciative, you know how things work in the employment world, you see yourself as part of a community – and you are willing to be there for them and others. Because a key part of your note or e-mail is also to invite them to call on you if you can ever assist them.

It’s all about “internalizing the principle of helping others,” just as you’ve been helped, says Ginny Pulos, president of Ginny Pulos Communications, a speech and media consulting firm in Manhattan. That’s the foundation of networking, a skill that can take you far.

It’s a principle that Joy Cavalieri picked up about 10 years ago when she was a student working for Evelyn Comer, head of government relations at Nassau Community College. Cavalieri observed how Comer made a point of sending notes of thanks to those who helped with various projects. “She was a very good observer,” Comer says. “She has never failed to thank me.”

Of course, Cavalieri says she has a lot to thank Comer for – besides mentoring and serving as a reference, Comer helped her get two jobs, including her present one as special events director for the Long Island chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

So, to whom should you send this “where I landed” note? Certainly your references, those who met with you for informational interviews, those who referred you to others or provided job leads, career center counselors, recruiters, internship supervisors who helped, and friends who stuck by you and provided moral support. Also, surprisingly enough, those employers whose jobs you turned down – as well as those who turned you down! You may not have been a match this time, but who knows about the future?

Still, Michelle Gordon, a recruiter with search firm Ajilon Finance in Hauppauge, says just a couple of years ago she and her colleagues were sometimes sent flowers, chocolates and gift baskets when they placed candidates in new jobs – as well as nice notes from those who landed by other means. While such expressions of gratitude were never the norm, they have dried up even further, she says. The irony – it was far easier to place people in that booming job market, yet “the appreciation factor seems to be diminishing.” And nice as the gifts may be, it’s a personal note that really counts, she says. Indeed, those candidates who have reached out to stay in touch are often those she thinks of years later when opportunities come up.

So, the question arises, if such an effort is so valuable, why don’t more people do it? Pulos says she’s “mystified at how people dismiss the fact you’ve taken time and made calls and written e-mails on their behalf.”

Certainly some are so focused on their immediate needs they don’t look to the future. And younger folks might dismiss the idea that they could ever be helpful to those more senior people who helped them. But Pulos says that even if you’re never called on by Ms. Big, you can pass the favor along to Ms. Little, someone a step or two behind you. “You be the same conduit for others,” she says.

Pulos recently attended a symposium at the United Nations moderated by a man who helped her 20 years ago when she was starting her own business. She told him how she’s tried to emulate his generosity, and “he was flattered and touched.”

Some people, too, may feel too driven to take the time while they’re on the way up – that once they really make it big they’ll be able to afford to soften the edges. But Pulos warns against this. First of all, “they don’t understand the value of building relationships and what that can mean to you years down the pike. It’s all about being a good citizen – deciding how you are going to live your life. If you don’t start now, then when?”

Ginny Pulos is president of Ginny Pulos Communications, Inc., a speech and media consultancy, and adjunct professor at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. She is an expert in presentation, storytelling and persuasion in corporate environments.r (www.ginnypulos.com). 

For more tips on speaking with confidence check our other blog posts. We welcome you to subscribe to our posts and the Ginny Pulos Communications Facebook page.

The president, his cabinet and the Congress are in a 24-hour spotlight.   We know them – or think we do – and judge what we believe we see and hear from them.  Are they credible?  Likeable?  Trustworthy?  They know our votes depend upon the answers to these questions.

Unlike President Obama, we may never have to grapple with the glaring spotlight of 24/7 national TV coverage. Yet we regularly present ourselves in a variety of settings – at meetings, interviews, conferences or seminars.   Some of us speak publicly all the time. But being the focus of attention can still challenge our confidence.

With a few “insider” tips, however, you can shine both in – and outside of – the spotlight.

You’re on!

Focus on your message – not on how you’re feeling – to overcome nervous jitters.  How you approach the podium is key. Take the time to breathe from the diaphragm, smile and make eye contact with a familiar face. Know your opening and closing cold so you can connect at these two critical moments.  Don’t try to cover up your nervousness.  Experienced speakers learn to move beyond it immediately to what their audiences need to know.

• Never memorize.  Instead, go over your words so frequently that you become conversational. Open with an attention-getting fact, quote or anecdote. Mark your notes for pauses, eye contact, breathing and emphasis. Use large type, double-spaced lines and the top two-thirds of the page only, so you can quickly spot your points when you need them. Then look up, speak — and slide the pages across the podium rather than turning them over.   Flag your closing with “finally,” “in conclusion,” or “before closing,” then sum up and hit the home run.  Don’t just fade away.

• Learn how a teleprompter works.  Remember, when there is laughter or applause, the prompter operator is moving ahead to your next speaking point.  You can begin whenever you like.  The prompter operator can’t move forward until you actually speak, so you’re in control, not the operator. Obama is comfortable with this, but many others in the spotlight are not, and it shows.

Practice, practice, practice, especially if someone else has written your speech. Read it aloud to be sure it sounds like you. Busy people often wait until the last minute to review a speech and then stumble in the delivery.  Sounding good in your head is different from getting your lips, teeth and tongue around words. If it doesn’t read well aloud, edit.  Reagan made every speech his own by skillfully editing and including his own stories.

 

Be who you are!

Communicate leadership and strength through your tone of voice, the words you use and your body language. When these are consistent and in alignment, you build trust.  What do you believe?  What do you stand for?  Let people know.

• Use positive, genuine emotion and enthusiasm to speak with your true “voice.”  If you have no emotional contact with your audience, you will have no impact. Think of Al Gore, who sounded like a policy wonk in the 2000 campaign.  On the other hand, think of McCain discussing his war record or his refusal to give up in Iraq, Obama’s “Together we can!” or Hillary’s “I will always fight for you . . .”   

People know unerringly when we’re genuine. Giuliani is a textbook example.  Watching his 9/11 press conferences, you see wears a Yankees cap, breathes easily and answers that we’ll keep working to rescue people because . . . “we’re dealing with New Yorkers here.”  That day, everyone became a New Yorker, whether they loved Giuliani or hated him.

• Be inclusive.  Use words like WE instead of ME or YOU.  And be aware of how you are using your body. Face the audience fully. Obama is good at inclusion, frequently using “we” and opening his palms as he speaks. Inclusive also means using fifty-cent words instead of $1.50 ones. Reagan and Bill Clinton were masters of this.  Whether speaking to commoners or kings, keep the language easy. Simple. Leave no one out.

 

Use positive nonverbal behavior to create impact

• Learn to read and use these powerful clues. We make instant decisions about people in the first seven seconds we meet.  Studies show that 93% of the impact of face-to-face communication comes from the tone of our voice and what our bodies say about us.  What non-verbal cues are you sending?  When Obama showed he was annoyed with Hillary’s answers during the debates, we read that.  When Mr. Romney was recorded giving an audience one answer, then recorded giving another audience an opposite answer and when questioned about both answers, we saw the mask come down in front of his eyes, we heard his stuttering fits and starts and, we read that too.

 • Appear credible. Don’t let the way you look divert attention from your message. Wear a great-fitting pants or skirt suit – and leave the distracting chandelier earrings and charm bracelets at home. (TV anchors are good role models for this.) Most public figures dress well. While Obama has the advantage of a tall, thin build, I’ve seen McCain in person, and — although shorter — he conveys powerful internal energy.  We all have to do our best with what we’ve been given at birth.

• Make direct eye contact, the most powerful credibility-builder in the West.

• Stand straight, with your weight equally distributed on both feet. Lean slightly toward your audience. Don’t slip a shoe off because your feet hurt. Let your hands rest at your sides or on the podium, then use them for emphasis, making sure your gestures match your words.

All non-verbal behaviors are powerful clues to underlying inner beliefs. Watch public figures over the coming weeks, and see what you can detect from their examples.  Do their gestures match their words, or are they late?  Are their smiles genuine, or are they grimaces? Are their heads cocked, communicating contempt or boredom? I guarantee that if you use even one of the tips included here, you’ll be perceived as more confident and powerful whether you’re in the spotlight or outside of it.  ##

 

Ginny Pulos is president of Ginny Pulos Communications, Inc., a speech and media consultancy, and adjunct professor at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. She is an expert in presentation, storytelling and persuasion in corporate environments.r (www.ginnypulos.com). 

For more tips on speaking with confidence check our other blog posts. We welcome you to subscribe to our posts and the Ginny Pulos Communications Facebook page.

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