“All public speaking is, is speaking to one person at a time in front of many people.”
This is just one of the million dollar speaking tips from ForbesSpeaker Deborah Patel. She’s the secret weapon, coach and mentor behind many of the world’s best-selling authors, experts and leaders of Fortune 500 Companies.
I asked her, “How to develop your signature speaking style so you can connect on a deeper level with your audience?”
The advice she gave provided the tools to become a speaker at the professional level, starting with how to work the room.
Watch this video about Deborah Patel’s Signature Speaking Style Tips.
Having The Personal Touch
She said that great public speaking is having a conversation with one person at a time in front of many people. As you make a connection with one person, you move on to the next person at the next table or the next section.
You make eye contact like you’re touching – making contact – as you work your way across the room.
Stay in one direction, and don’t go back and forth like you’re watching a tennis match. You want to give the impression that you are open and vulnerable, sincere and genuine, and humble. Especially in Asia where being humble is key to gaining trust.
You want to be sincere and have a connection with the audience by being able to feel what their concerns are. If they have a question they need answered, you can sense it.
The last impression you want to give is that you’re speaking to sell them something. Instead, you’re speaking to serve a need, and people will recognize that purpose through your connection with them.
If you have that sense of connection, then with one glance, even to someone at the back of the room, you’ll know that person is with you and following what you’re presenting.
Your true mastery as a public speaker shows when you are speaking in front of thousands and you can be flexible. Flexibility is key when you have audience participation.
When you have a presentation in front of 5,000 to 10,000 people, you can do your opening and cover your main points and issues with the entire group. Then in the middle of your keynote, you can open it up for questions.
It’s a bit dangerous because you have to really know your content. You don’t know what the audience may ask. But for Deborah, it’s both scary and fun to do something like this, as long as you know your material.
When it comes to presentations, you can use questions as a way to break up the presentation or check in with the audience. For example, at some point in your presentation you can open it up for Q and A.
If you find people aren’t responding, then you ask then to take a moment to get a partner and share their top takeaways from the last 30 minutes.
It may require people to step outside of their comfort zone to have that discussion, depending on how you structure it. You might even have had an activity that requires people to practice a concept from your presentation.
Then you ask the group to share what was discussed in the group or partner activity. It’s a way to engage people and show that you’ve been listening when you ask them if they have questions.
Having a high level of confidence is necessary when you open up your presentation to questions from the audience. It’s also necessary when you are selling to them.
Presentation Confidence and Control
I’ve done platform selling – speaking on the stage to promote a product or service. Your presentation has to be practiced or you’ll lack confidence.
Deborah’s advice for those who sell from the stage is to aim to have more polish. If you’re not confident enough, then your insecurities will show. So when you’re more practiced, then focus on serving the needs of your audience.
I couldn’t agree more. I teach my students in the High-Ticket Closer ™ Certification program to speak with confidence in their voice. If you don’t sound confident in what you’re selling, how can prospects be confident in what they are buying from you?
Someone that Deborah has worked with is T. Harv Eker who is a master of selling from the stage. His style was to push people and irritate them for their own good to get them to buy. He needs that tough attitude to get people to move forward and take the next step.
These qualities are not easy to master overnight. When it comes to speaking and presenting, it takes “many masters to make a masterpiece.” If you’re a lifelong learner, you’ll take pieces from all the greatest presenters that you know, whether it’s T. Harv Eker or Tony Robbins to get the results you need as a speaker.
How To Act Natural In Front Of An Audience
Deborah studies how to be a coach, a facilitator or a trainer for those moments when she’s in front of the room and she needs to put people in a training exercise to master their speaking skills.
She says that what you want to do is reverse engineer everything by starting with the end in mind. You want to ask yourself how you want your audience to feel, what stories you want to tell, and what words to use to get the effect you want.
You’ll also vary the volume of your voice. Lower it, like you do when you’re in a conversation. The lowering of your voice happens naturally when you’re having a conversation or when you’re speaking with your loved ones. You also use that voice when you’re having a good time.
You want to master the volume of your voice and the effect it will have on your audience.
The problem is, when people get on a stage or they get in front of a camera, they stop being natural. Their self-consciousness kicks in. So what Deborah does as a coach is build a tool kit that people can use when they need them.
An example of a tool is when you’re in sales and you have people imagine what it would be like to paint the vision. When you’re creating the vision you need to be seeing the vision of say, financial freedom. Then your emotions create pictures, and your emotions need your voice to create this mood in the audience.
Developing A Sixth Sense
When you’re talking in front of people, then you’re reading them. You’re going to feel what they need to hear. That’s the genius of it.
As you speak more and more, you develop this sense of what’s happening in the room. You could be a room of hundreds and you’ll notice that a group at the back, having a roundtable discussion, has a question that you should address.
It’s this sixth sense that you develop when you make a lot of presentations.
It’s a matter of being present with the room. You have to know your material that you’re speaking about, and be comfortable with yourself and speaking in public. Otherwise, you will not achieve this sixth sense level of awareness about your audience.
You will also have to give up on the idea of giving perfect speeches or presentations. You want to be in control and precise about what’s happening but you can’t control everything. There are things you can control, like technology, like the mic, the sound system, and your opening and pacing, but you can’t control everything.
Perfecting Your Signature Speaking Voice
When you’re closing, then depending on what you’re offering, you want to be very careful about the words that you are using to close people.
So if you are not natural at public speaking, then you have to practice it with that intention, that you are honing in very specific speaking skills.
If you want to get better at perfecting your message, then practice the speech of someone you admire. You can also try to copy a motivational speaker. Just choose a speech to copy. For example, practice delivering the last three minutes of Martin Luther King’s speech. Imitate how the other person speaks.
Later on, when you get better at it, then you can start to develop your own style after you’ve learned the basics for good public speaking. So like learning how to sing, copy six different artists that you like and then your own signature style will start to emerge.
Final Words: Finding Your Signature Speaking Style
If you’re not comfortable speaking in front of an audience, then work on developing that talent. Having that magical amount of eye contact, that natural volume in your voice is very important when making a connection with people.
As a lifelong learner, you can start by imitating the speakers who you admire, and then when you improve, start developing your own style.
Know your material well so you can be comfortable giving up some control, for example, when you ask the audience to ask you questions.
When you have enough practice with speaking in front of large groups, you’ll start to develop a sixth sense – you’ll feel what the audience is feeling. All of these are characteristics of a master speaker.
What do you do to connect with an audience when you are speaking? Comment below.