Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Speak To Influence Minicourse Part 1 Of 5

Writen by Gary Horsman

In this session you will:

1. Record your voice
2. Make a strengths list
3. Make an improvement list
4. Define who will help you.

There are many things that you can do to improve your speaking ability. I think that a necessary area to that almost always benefits the speaker is the ability to speck and influence the audience. This mini course will help in many way and we will take it a step at a time.


It is invaluable to record yourself. It will give you a new perspective on how you speak and make a point. It will also be a reference for you. I use my computer and a microphone. A cassette recorder or a micro-cassette recorded will be fine. If you have a video recorder and a tripod this would also serve nicely.

I would like you to record yourself in two different ways. First, simply read from a book or magazine for one to two minutes. Then record yourself without a prepared script. Pick a topic and speak about it for 1 to 2 minutes.

These recordings will be enough for you to now evaluate yourself. An objective evaluation at this point is very important. I strongly suggest you to take it seriously and it can be insightful and fun at the same time.

The goal here is to gain insight on how others hear you. You should listen for specific things such as the way you take breaths, your pronunciation, your perceived pace of speaking. It is even good to note the number of words and then define your speaking pace in words per minute. These recordings are a great reference for you and the more things you observer about them the more value they will have for you.

The objective is to make you aware of your speaking pattern so that you will have specific things to work on and become less self-conscious.


Many people do not like the way they sound. They think it does not sound like them. The way we hear ourselves is not the way others hear us. No matter how you think you sound, it is important to realize that you do have some definite strengths.

After you have recorded yourself, listen to the recording a few times to evaluate certain aspects of your voice. It is important to note that the things we measure we tend to improve. I suggest that you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 for the following qualities. Have your evaluators do the same but realize that each evaluator's scale will be different.

• Warmth
• Command
• Professionalism
• Enthusiasm
• Showing Interest in your material
• Articulateness
• Pace
• Persuasiveness
• Pleasantness of tone
• Clarity
• Passion
• Authority
• Volume

Write down any other adjectives that come to mind.


The next part of the process is to determine the improvements or needs. Consider the following criteria:

• Too fast or too slow
• Too loud or too soft
• Monotone
• Tentative or uncertain
• Mumbles
• Breath too loud
• Breath not paced well
• Unpleasant tone
• Strong accent
• Tired or lacking enthusiasm
• Uses non-words, such as "ah," "uh," "um," or "you know"
• Too high-pitched
• Nasal
• Not relaxed
• Singsong
• Threatening

Again, list additional adjectives that come to mind.

Making lists of strengths and improvements will help you to define the things you don't know you do well or areas you where you didn't know you needed to improve. Identifying these is extremely valuable. Once you know your strengths, be grateful for them. Now that you have your improvements list, you are ready to advance.


As you seek to improve, enlisting the support of someone who knows you well and who you feel is easy to work with can be a big help. It may be best to have two people you can count on for comments and suggestions. Any more than two may be unnecessary.

Explain to your helpers that you would like them to listen to you or your recordings on occasion.

It is important to have a prepared script and then to speak from this script and have your supporters evaluate you. The feedback from others that are objective in evaluating your speech is an important part of the process of improvement. After evaluating your recording on your own, have two other people evaluate you as well using the same criteria. Then combine the feedback from these evaluations.

Once you have recorded yourself and with your rating and the feedback of others you will be ready to map out a plan for significant improvement.

That's it for part 1. You are now prepared to make some progress towards improving your voice in very specific areas. You will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can make progress with a little focus and effort.

In part 2 we will cover the key qualities of your voice, how to eliminate "non-words" and what to do about your specific pronunciation mistakes.

Gary is President of Presentations That Talk ( The core product of Presentations That Talk is the PTT Presenter. The PTT Presenter allows users to easily make voice-narrated streaming media presentations. This allows a company to present their products and services, using the Internet, with presentation marketing which adds impact and helps to influence the viewer.

Gary is also a public speaker, educator, and mentor/coach to others wishing to improve their speaking ability.

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