Every once in a while, I watch a speaker who has a great message but whose delivery is marred by one major flaw: he or she directs his or her attention to only one person in the room. It is unnerving because I feel that the speaker is not interested in talking to me. |
There is only one reason for this to happen and it is called nervousness. The speaker believes – probably because he/she has been taught to do this in some course on public speaking – that when you are nervous, you should focus your attention (stare) at one particular person in the audience and you will feel much better.
Why would you feel better, when you are addressing 20, 50, 100 or 500 people, to acknowledge only 1 individual in that group? Do not all those in your audience deserve the same treatment?
Good public speaking skills include acknowledging your audience and being aware of their reaction or their response to you. If you are focused on only one person in the room, then you will be unable to perceive that response. By directing your gaze to various areas of your audience, however, those within that particular section will think you are talking directly to them.
The best means of practicing this technique is to address 2 or more of your friends or family members, moving your gaze from one individual to another – just as you would were you having a conversation with them. While a group of 4 or 5 is ideal, you can definitely practice with just 2 others in the room.
If speaking to a group is not possible, you can use stuffed animals. When I have a private client in my studio who is working on his/her presentation skills, I will place large stuffed animals in the various seats throughout the room, which gives my client the ability to practice moving his/her gaze from one ‘animal’ to another. This is most effective and it works.
Everyone in your audience came to hear you speak to them – not just one individual. Make it a point to acknowledge all in your audience the next time you deliver a speech or presentation. You will be surprised at how much more relaxed you will feel if you can learn to scan the room, remembering those on your far left as well as those on your right. Only then will you be successfully communicating with your audience.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. To see how voice training can improve your life, both professionally and personally, visit Voice Dynamic or watch a brief video as The Voice Lady describes Dynamic Public Speaking.
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