How to speak with confidence
The thought of speaking aloud frightens most of us at one time or another and the tips below will help ease your speaking anxiety.
1. Word Pictures
We may not be aware of it but when we are speaking aloud we have images in our mind that we'd like the listener to share.
If I say Christmas Cake we all get an image in our minds. We might not have the same image as each other and so it's the job of the speaker to try and get us to have a similar picture to them. We do this by using the words and our voice.
2. Slowing Down (or Pace)
Most people talk much too quickly when speakig aloud, so the first thing you have to do is slow down. It may feel painfully slow to you but you must give the audience listening a chance to take in what you're saying.
There are two easy ways to do this.
First, just make sure that you open your mouth a little wider than you do in usual conversation. This makes it a lot easier for the sound to come out and means that you speak just a fraction slower. Look at yourself in a mirror as you speak and see how wide you open your mouth. If you go and do it now I guarantee you'll be surprisd at how small the opening is for the sound to come out of. When you're practising the sound 'i' pronounced 'eye', you should be able to get three fingers vertically in your mouth!
Another foolproof way of slowing down only works when you are reading your speech aloud - which I would highly reccommend. There's enough to remember without having to worry about words of a speech! Anyway - everytime you come to a fullstop or comma in your speech, just say 'fullstop' or 'comma' to yourself - it's easy and anyone can do it! This is particularly effective when you've been asked to read something out loud (school classroom, interview, audition etc) and you're extremely nervous.
If I had to give just one tip to people speaking aloud I think this would be it!
Try it now - just pick up a magazine or book that happens to be on the desk next to the computer. Now read aloud a couple of sentences, remembering to say the 'comma' or 'fullstop' to yourself. Easy!
Another way to slow down when speaking aloud is to practise these exercises which will help you to open your mouth correctly. They'll also help your facial muscles stay in shape and keep you looking young!!
Try saying the following out loud:
"Writing a speech is not as difficult as people first think. As long as you have an introduction, a middle and a conclusion you'll have a speech. Remember to write the speech in language that the audience will understand. When you practice make sure that you practice out loud and remember to underline all the important words."
It should take between 20 and 25 seconds - any faster and it's too fast, if it's much slower your audience will fall asleep waiting for the next word.
Although in general, the pace needs to be slow, if you're speaking a particularly exciting or angry passage, speed up a little to convey this change in mood.
Obviously, you need to speak loud enough so that people can hear you. Don't be frightened by the sound of your own voice. If you're too quiet the listeners will have to strain to listen to you and you'll also give the impression that you think that what you have to say isn't important.
If your voice is going to sound interesting when speaking aloud you must alter the pitch (high or low) of your voice to suit the mood of your speaking. In general terms a voice which is low in pitch gives a feeling of seriousness and authority - think of a giant talking. The opposite to this would be a little fairy talking with a tiny high pitched voice. This would sound very sweet but wouldn't be very authoritative.
Remember though, that a voice that is always at the same pitch is very, very monotonous. Even if you want your speech to sound serious you will need to raise the pitch of your voice on exciting and important words.
I can't over emphasize the importance of the pause. Whether you're giving a speech, reading from a book or just conversing with a friend,the listener will need time to take in what you've said. Hopefully you're going to say or read something that should make them think - so give them time to think!
If you just carry on without a break they'll be considering your last thought while you have started on the next thought.
Pausing when speaking aloud also gives you the chance to take a breath and perhaps give your audience a quick glance to see if they're understanding what you are saying. If you're looking at an audience with blank faces perhaps you need to start again or explain a few thoughts more thoroughly.
If you're saying something funny you might want the audience to react with laughter - stop and give them time.
If you're explaining - give them time to work out what you've said.
For more info see http://www.afraid-of-speaking-a-speech.com/speakinganxietybible.html