Improve Your Speaking by Listening – To Yourself!

As speakers, we know we can always improve. Videoing ourselves is a great tool to use to view, review, and improve. However, it focuses on everything.

Rather than trying to better both our content and delivery, it often helps to target specific parts of our presentation. The delivery component has two parts: verbal and nonverbal. This post addresses one specific part – verbal delivery.

We realize, it’s not just the words we speak that have an impact, but also the way they are spoken. Vocal variety, inflection, cadence and pausing all have roles in helping our audience GET IT!

Guaranteed: This exercise will make you a better speaker!

1. Make an Audio Recording

Important: Have a high quality microphone and good speakers. We might watch poor video, but we won’t listen to bad audio. To better your vocal delivery the recording musts be authentic and clear. I use a Samson G Track USB microphone and audio interface to record my voice. I also have quality JBL external speakers attached to my computer. When played back, what I hear is what I said and how I said it.

I’m a mac man, and use Apple’s Garageband to record the audio. This program is extremely easy to use. Do not record yourself with one of the special effects and enhancements the software offers. You want to hear the true you!

I export my recording as an mp3 file and put it into iTunes for future listening and evaluation. PC users might look at Audacity for making their audio recordings.

2. Listen to Yourself

If you’ve never done this, it will take a while to get used to the sound of your voice. It isn’t the sound you hear as you speak. Recording and listening to the recording will give you the same experience your audience hears when you present. That’s what you want. You’ll soon discover, as I did, two things about your voice:

1. The voice you thought you have.
2. The voice you have.

3. Listen to Yourself, Again – Critically!

The point of recording yourself is to improve. Your first listening probably didn’t boost your ego. You don’t have the dynamic, professional radio voice you thought you had. Get over it!

Listen to the entire talk without stopping or making notes. It’s important to get the full impact of your voice for the length of the entire talk.

4. Listen to Yourself, a Third Time.

This time, stop the recording, start playing it, and make notes, about specific things to work on. Listen intently to what you are saying and how you are saying it.

5. You’ll Discover

Here’s what I found when listening to my audio:

  • Mumbling.
  • Voice volume trailing off at the end of sentences.
  • Sentences that will be better when I rewrite them.
  • Pauses that were either too short or nonexistent.
  • Speaking too loud in a few instances; too soft spoken in others.
  • Places where inflection and pausing would improve the message, so the
    audience will GET IT!

You’ll uncover similar things.

6. Fix It, and Record, Again

Trust me, you can do better, and you will! Make the adjustments and corrections you unearthed in listening to yourself and make another recording.

7. Work on the Sticky Spots

I know your opening rocks! For sure, your closing is sensational! However, somewhere in between, there are places that can be improved. Work on these.

We have a tendency to start at the beginning each time we practice. We speakers also repeat those “quotable quotes” that will be the lead-in to the reviewers column following our performance.

Work on what needs working on! (There’s a “quotable quote!”)

8. Celebrate!

You’ve taken major steps to improve the quality of your talk and should be proud!

I’ll close this post, as I do my presentations, with a challenge and a prediction.

Here’s my challenge: follow the audio recording steps outlined above. Do that, and my prediction is this: “Your next presentation will be absolutely, positively – “No Sweat!”

About fmiller 2 Articles
Fred E. Miller is a speaker, a coach and the author of the book, "No Sweat Public Speaking!" Businesses and individuals hire him because they want to improve their public speaking and presentation skills. He shows them how to develop, practice and deliver knock your socks off presentations! with - no sweat!

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