When you are speaking at that great networking group, or that important meeting, or ’on screen’, and you really want to make an impact with your ‘one minute pitch’, it’s easy to really try to cram everything in to make sure that you don’t forget anything that you think is so important for everyone to hear… And so, it can be so tempting to read it out!
It is very easy to get fixated on the script and the content, however what your audience really needs from you when you are speaking, either in person or online, is to get an impression of you, and who you are, in order to decide whether to work with or buy from you.
When you are reading, it always looks like reading, and who wants to look at someone reading?! Who gets any idea of who anyone is, by watching them read?
Consider this: if what you are saying is about you, your business, your expertise or your clients… well, would you trust someone who had to read out what they did and what their purpose was? Isn’t that part of who you are? Subliminally, this can adversely affect your credibility in the eyes of the audience.
Of course, if you are delivering a long speech, and basically need to glance at your notes from time to time, while also ensuring you have eye contact with your audience for most of it, then that is perfectly acceptable. You should only need to look at your notes for prompting purposes. Equally, if you need to quote exact facts and figures or specific quotes, then it can be very acceptable to have some cue cards. However, if you read word for word the whole time, you will leave your audience wondering why they bothered to show up, or switch on, to watch you – when you could have just sent them the script and they could have read it themselves at a time to suit them.
What about reading from an autocue on screen?
Professional news readers and presenters use on screen autocue devices. There are some on the market for general use as well. The problem is that, reading from a teleprompter is also a skill that you have to learn and really requires a lot of work and skill to give the appearance of talking naturally. We know that news readers are reading, but their professional skill (and frankly top notch technical apparatus) enables us to still feel as though they are speaking to us directly. I have turned off so many videos where I have seen the speaker manically staring at what is clearly an autocue device, with no change of expression in the eyes. They are so obviously reading, and it is dull.
Take a bit of time to pick up a few skills and gain confidence (yes confidence can be learnt!) in speaking without relying on looking at a script, and it will pay dividends with your audience connection, and you will start to actually enjoy speaking in public!
Remember the marketing adage: people buy goods and ideas from people; and they will make a decision based on what they feel, and then justify with logic. First, you need to make a connection, and you won’t do that with the top of your head…
If you would like to find out more about Locus Coaching and how I can help you to gain confidence (and actually enjoy) speaking, contact Fiona Whytehead at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.locuscoaching.com.