Public speaking skills are as important as any politician’s sincerity in his political aspirations for his constituents. How he uses words, his body language, and gestures can be the difference between getting the people’s favour towards winning the election and his ideals not getting the attention it needs. With the American presidential campaign season in a roar, who will reach the people better?
Over the next few weeks, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be making possibly the most important speeches of their lives." In an election this close, a candidate’s persuasive powers, their voice, image, body language and ability to connect with voters, becomes more important than ever, "says Monique Harrisberg, voice and communications expert and CEO of The Voice Clinic.
Harrisberg says the following tips are vital to win over votes:
· Good speakers stick to what they know. Great speakers research what they need to convey their message.
· Help your audience grasp your message by focusing on your message. Stories, humour, or other “sidebars” should connect to the core idea.
· A well-organized presentation can be absorbed with minimal mental strain.
· Metaphors enhance your message in a way that direct language often cannot.
· Everyone loves a story. Points wrapped up in a story are more memorable, too!
· Knowing when to use humour is essential. So is developing the comedic timing to deliver it with greatest effect.
· Vary vocal pace, tone, and volume, a monotone voice is like fingernails on the chalkboard.
· Punctuate words with gestures. Gestures should complement your words in harmony. Tell them how big the fish was, and show them with your arms.
· Utilize 3-dimensional space – Chaining yourself to the lectern limits the energy and passion you can exhibit. Lose the notes, and lose the chain.
· Complement words with visual aids. Visual aids should aid the message; they should not be the message.
· Analyze the audience. Deliver the message they want (or need) to hear.
· Eye contact is only the first step. Aim to have the audience conclude “This speaker is just like me!”
· Interact with the audience. Ask questions, listen to the answers, and solicit volunteers. Make your presentation a dialogue.
· Not every speaking opportunity affords a Q&A session, but understands how to lead one productively. Use the Q&A to solidify the impression that you are an expert, not (just) a speaker.
· Not every speaking opportunity affords time for a discussion, but knows how to engage the audience productively.
· Obey time constraints .Customize your presentation to fit the time allowed, and respect your audience by not going over time.
· Set the context and make sure the audience is ready to go, whether the introduction is for you or for someone else.
· Exhibit confidence and poise. These qualities are sometimes difficult for a speaker to attain, but easy for an audience to sense.
· Handle unexpected issues smoothly, maybe the lights will go out. Have a plan to handle every situation.
· Understand that no presentation or presenter is perfect. Aim for continuous improvement, and understand that the best way to improve is to solicit candid feedback from as many people as you can.
· Speakers, study the strengths and weakness of other speakers.
· Act and speak ethically, realize the tremendous power of influence that you hold. Use this power responsibly.
Obama put his re-election bid back on firm ground after a strong debate performance on Tuesday, 16 October. With the election three weeks away, Obama’s second of three debates with Mitt Romney represented one of the last chances to make an impression on voters.
“Romney's excellent debating & speaking skills has posed a huge threat to Obama’s campaign. Romney is looking impressive and far more commanding than Obama at the moment,” comments Harrisberg.
“Voice, image and body language all combine to create credibility in the form of trustworthiness and expertise,” says Harrisberg. “Your voice affects how serious you are taken, how respected you are and will effect the results you will achieve,” she concludes.