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Should You Memorize Your Presentation?

If there’s one thing people fear worse than death itself, it’s public speaking.

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Professional speakers and experienced executives will often hire PowerPoint design services to focus on the visual aspect of their presentation. This way, they can maximize their time for speech preparation.

Sure, it can be nerve-wracking, but if done right, it will always feel fulfilling in the end.

Once you address your anxiety, it might make you a bit paranoid, but don’t worry about it—many people deal with this, too, and everyone has their own way of dealing with it.

While there are those who consider memorization as a means to reduce anxiety, others may find it difficult, consequently adding to their stress.

 

Dr. Genard, author of Fearless Speaking, thinks memorizing speeches is a terrible idea. To him, reciting from memory detaches the speaker from the audience. In addition, it makes them sound stiff and mechanical.

The moment stress and anxiety kick in, all the information you’ve memorized will disappear. These hijack the brain and reduce fluid intelligence—or the ability to solve problems, as observed by Sian Beilock, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago.

 

Instead of memorizing your presentation, rehearse as much as you can. Ask your peers to critique and give their feedback so you can apply these to the way you present.

Knowing the pitch like the back of your hand results in you delivering your pitch conversationally, making it easier for your audience to pick up on the emotions and reactions you’re trying to coax from them.

 

Break your ideas into bite-sized chunks and get to know the gist of each one, so you can describe them on your own later on. By then, it will become easy for you to play around with concepts to compare and contrast them with. This allows for a more authentic, on-the-spot performance, as you’re telling it with your own voice—making your expertise on the subject shine.

 

Darlene Price, a communications coach and the president of Well Said, Inc., stated in an article with Business Insider, that memorizing your opening is fine and recommended since the beginning of the pitch often carries a rush of adrenaline, empowering you to start strong and make a confident first impression.

The way you deliver your speech matters more than the content. No matter how interesting the information may be, if you’re lacking confidence, it’s just not going to come out right. You may end up selling your presentation short when you could be convincing people to trust you and what you’re promoting.

Above all, reciting a memorized pitch takes the authenticity and fun out of presenting. While custom PowerPoint presentations can provide the key points of your discussion, it’s still up to you to carry the flow of conversation with confidence.

Presentation anxiety is normal and you shouldn’t make a big deal out of it. The only way to lessen it is to make sure that you’re prepared for it and for what your audience may ask you at the end of your pitch. Accept their feedback gracefully and take note of these, so you can improve and deliver your next presentation with more confidence and conviction.

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References:

Smith, Jacquelyn. “11 Tips for Calming Your Nerves Before A Big Presentation.” Business Insider. June 23, 2014. www.businessinsider.com/tips-for-calming-nerves-before-a-speech-2014-6

Shellenbarger, Sue. “A Faux Pas Recovery Plan.” The Wall Street Journal. December 22, 2015. www.wsj.com/articles/a-faux-pas-recovery-plan-1450821565

Beilock, Sian. “Math Performance in Stressful Situations.” The University of Chicago. 2008. hpl.uchicago.edu/sites/hpl.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/Beilock_CurrDir_2008.pdf

4 Speech Patterns that Downplay Your Business Presentation

Taking presentation ethics to heart may increase your speaking credentials, but your audience also judges your credibility based on your speech patterns.

Though these conversational behaviors are unintentional, they still derail your image, hamper your flow, alienate your listeners or, worse, downplay your business presentation’s effectivity.

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Here are four common public speaking habits you should avoid at all costs, along with their potential remedies:

1. Overusing Qualifiers

Qualifiers are words like “very,” “really,” or “somewhat” that emphasize or modify the degree of a statement. Though they limit or enhance the information presented, using them excessively weaken your message’s impact.

These modifiers are commonly used for hedging or expressing vague language. They’re useful in narrative writing, but have no place in professional presentations. Using this set of words lessen your authority and diminish the impact of your message. You can get away with it to make your statement sound more solid and credible.

Avoid overusing qualifiers because it only delays your main thought, shunning audiences in an instant. For example, saying “I believe we are the best ad agency in the district” can sound less appealing than “We are the best ad agency in the district.”

Don’t be hesitant to omit words or substitute them with more assertive ones. Be confident and direct to maximize your credibility.

2. Adding Question Tags

A tag question or tail question is used to confirm someone’s understanding or connect with another person’s thoughts or feelings. Short phrases like “Isn’t it?”, “Don’t you?”, and “Aren’t you?” are few of the common examples of this conversational pattern.

Adding these short questions at the end of your statement is not the best way to affect a conversational tone.  In fact, a study found that tag questions have indirectly adverse effects on audience’s perceptions of the speaker’s credibility.

This speech habit brings confusion to your presentation, sabotaging your message’s quality and making you seem in need of approval and validation. It can also lead to a misconception that you lack self-belief and knowledge on the topic.

Don’t let these speech fragments weaken your sentence’s ending. Think of other ways that can help involve people in the conversation.

Asking an independent question can be an effective alternative to tag questions. Transition your message with a follow-up question, such as: “This research is another breakthrough in the marketing industry. What are your impressions on this?” to better engage your audience.

3. Repeating Filler Words

Filler words are another verbal hiccup that undermine your public speaking reputation. They are short utterances or words that are added unconsciously to a sentence for no reason.

These include the dreadful words “Um”, “Well”, “You know” and “Uh”. Although they don’t have meanings, they still have an effect to your listeners.

Repeated and excessive use of filler words is the best way to lose your audience and weaken your credibility. This conversational routine can distort your message and distract people from what you’re saying.

Curb this bad public speaking habit by listing down your ideas prior to your business presentation. This lessens the panic, making you speak more comfortably and confidently.

Practicing speech pauses also helps overcome the “Um” problem. Pause to your advantage to give yourself some time to think and respond more effectively.

4. Up-Talking

Are you guilty of ending your sentence with a high vocal pitch? This practice is called high rising terminal (HRT) or up talk.

It’s a habitual pattern that makes a simple declarative sentence sound more like a question because of the rising intonation. Doing this leaves people an impression of you being weak and feeling inferior to them.

In a survey conducted by Pearson, 85% of research participants said that up talking indicates a person’s insecurity or emotional weakness while 57% of them believed that it damages a person’s professional credibility.

This implies that speaking in a very high pitch is discouraged especially when doing business pitches. When you make an important point like “Our sales are increasing,” avoid saying it like “Our sales are increasing?”

Ending it like a question only makes your statement tentative and uncertain. Your goal is to inform your audience, not to confuse them.

If you’re a natural up-talker, practice breathing exercises prior to your presentation. This allows you to relax and maintain your vocal range and speak with conviction without the rising intonation. Developing a sense of certainty. Learning how to communicate a sentence gives you confidence, so do it often.

Conclusion

It’s impossible to captivate your audience if they don’t see you as confident and credible. Bad speaking habits and patterns such as qualifiers, tag questions, filler words, and up-talking disrupt people’s attention and harm your credibility.

Excessive use of qualifiers delay and weaken a message’s impact. Break free from this habit by making your statement more direct. Adding question tags at the end of your sentence can make you look like asking for approval from others. Instead, ask them a follow-up question to catch their attention.

The dreaded filler words are one of the culprits to effective public speaking. Practice speech pauses to speak more comfortably and confidently. Up talking causes people question your certainty about a topic. Some breathing exercises might help in cooling you down and helping you avoiding speaking in high-pitched voice.

Eliminate these bad speech patterns to effectively deliver your business presentations.

Need help planning for your professional presentations? Book a meeting with SlideGenius. All it takes is fifteen minutes.

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References

“3 Speaking Habits That Are Damaging Your Credibility.” No Freaking Speaking. n.d. Accessed February 5, 2016. www.nofreakingspeaking.com/index.html/3-speaking-habits-that-are-damaging-your-credibility/

Marr, Bernard. “Want A Promotion? Then Don’t UpSpeak!” LinkedIn. January 20, 2014. Accessed February 5. 2016. www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140120061951-64875646-want-a-promotion-then-don-t-upspeak?trk=tod-home-art-list-large_0

“Hedges, tag questions, message processing, and persuasion.” Academia. Accessed February 5, 2016. www.academia.edu/744111/Hedges_tag_questions_message_processing_and_persuasion