Following a bad experience with speaking in public some years ago, I attended a one-day training session.
There, I met a female engineer – a rare species in those days; two other females in finance; an accountant, quiet and reserved; a Finnish boiler-maker instructor, a quiet young fellow in work clothes; and several others that I have forgotten.
Our facilitator explained the main points about speaking in public:
- The need to speak to the audience, with vocal variety, strong eye contact, gestures, standing without moving around, overcoming nerves and much much more.
- She addressed the females in the group, pointing out that due to their voices being softer and of a higher frequency, they need to speak louder and project their voices much more than males.
- She addressed the accountant advising that there is a negative image of accountants as being boring, to concentrate on his delivery – vary his voice, and jazz up his appearance – coloured tie, brighter clothes generally, etc.
We were given an hour and a half for lunch to prepare an address to the rest of the group in the afternoon session. Subject of our choice.
The afternoon session started with three or four presentations which generally put into practice much of what had been discussed earlier. Then the female engineer stood up and, looking down at her notes, read directly from them with no attempt to address the audience. She spoke very softly with many ums and errs, almost incomprehensible.
The accountant was next, dressed in grey shirt, dark grey trousers, and tie. He started speaking, looking straight in front, in a monotone. It was a supreme example of a boring delivery.
Then the young Finn. He walked slowly to the front and started speaking slowly in a clear voice: “I want to tell you today, how you can be …” the volume suddenly leapt to a crescendo, he thumped the table hard with his hand and bellowed: “saved by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ!”.
He continued in this manner for the next 10 minutes. The audience was visibly stunned into silence. At the end there was no applause, no sound at all, nothing from the facilitator who was also shocked. Matti just picked up his notes and returned to his seat.
We found out later that he belonged to a fundamental Christian group who on Saturday nights set up a microphone and speaker in the town’s main street. Matti was a regular preacher.
At the end of the last session of the day, the facilitator sat individually with each participant detailing criticisms and recommendations. For me it was a valuable session and helped me in presenting future speeches. Ever since I have tried to speak without shouting or needing to call on Divine Intervention.