[Image by Gerd Altmann of Pixabay]

Imagine that you just learned that you have to give a presentation (or webinar, interview, podcast, etc.).  We all have a similar moment and typically our reaction ranges from disgust, to dislike, to dread or maybe some combination of each of these.  Am I right?  Believe me when I tell you that you’re not alone and what you’re experiencing is really quite normal.  But the real question is—what are you going to do with your concerns?

For the last two decades, I’ve been privileged to coach a wide array of clients in their speaking engagements, so I know what many of you experience.  My job is to offer you a variety of tools that you can apply to effectively address your needs.  Based on the client and what I learn from him or her, I sometimes recommend a technique known as negative practice. It works quite well so let me explain further.

Let’s say you want to improve your ability to…

  • Reduce your rate of speech--in that case, I’d recommend that first you speak as rapidly as you can and then contrast that with the addition of pauses sprinkled throughout your speech.
  • Speak well despite distractions–first, I’d suggest speaking in a quiet environment that is free of distractions and then slowly add in whatever may be distracting to you (e.g., sudden loud noise, ringing cell phone, uninvited visitors, etc.).
  • Articulate with greater intelligibility and include all syllables–for this, I advise that you initially speak in a natural manner, which may mean truncating words (e.g., gonna for going to, shoulda for should have).  Then you would intentionally use “going to” in place of shortening it to “gonna” or “should have” in place of “shoulda.”
  • Increase vocal volume–here I would have my client begin speaking using their most typical vocal volume.  Then I would mark the text or cue the client to either change their breathing pattern, alter their posture, or reduce their rate of speech. All of these can positively increase the vocal volume.

Negative practice is a technique where the individual switches back and forth between the usual way of speaking and the optimal way of speaking.  By doing so, it contrasts the two styles.  I further recommend that my client record his or her voice, so the feedback is more noticeable. Using negative practice has been extremely effective as a technique of change when it comes to public speaking.

Give it a try and feel free to let me know the outcome. You may reach me by phone or email 518-664-6004 or dale@profitablespeech.com

Can’t wait to hear from you.