Your voice and your body
Research shows that the words we use count for only 7% of the message we communicate. The remaining 93% comes from the tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures and so on. When thinking about our voices we need to ensure they are:
- Audible - some rooms have better acoustics than others, but nerves can cause our volume to decrease. Keep your head up and speak slowly and clearly, aiming at the person at the back of the room.
- Interesting - concentration spans are short so retain interest by varying the tone of your voice. Asking a question naturally causes this to happen.
- Appropriately paced - research has shown that we don't speak more quickly during presentations, but the number of natural pauses in our speech decreases. It may feel artificial, but insert enough pauses in your talk to allow the audience to take in all the information. One trick is to add a couple of extra seconds of silence as you change slides.
Non-verbal communication speaks as much as our words and voices. When speaking remember:
- Eye contact - keep in contact with your audience, look at them and try to make eye contact. If the group is spread out make sure you look around the room to involve them all. If you are too nervous to make eye contact, try focusing on people's foreheads - this gives the impression you're making eye contact!
- Don't fidget - it is hard to listen to the content of a talk if the speaker is pacing up and down or fiddling with their glasses.
- Dress professionally - wear something which is smart, but does not distract from the content of what you are saying.
SMILE by Imperial College, Loughborough University, GCU SCEBE Learning Development Centre and the University of Worcester, modified by Marion Kelt Glasgow Caledonian University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.