How can you improve your speaking skills, but still sound like “you”? Lisa B. Marshall shares tips from David Candow, The Host Whisperer, that will improve your audio delivery without making you sound like a phony. Learn how to sound conversational and speak plainly.
1. It is important to sound like yourself. Don’t lose the qualities that make you who you are. You’ll still want to work to improve your delivery and sound quality, but work to make “you” sound better. Don’t try to imitate someone else. Find your own sound and run with it. For example, you don’t have to completely lose an accent, you don’t have to change your vocabulary choices, and most of all you don’t have to imitate someone else.
Write for the ear, not the eye.
2. Write for the ear, not for the eye. When you write your script or notes, don’t use business English. Sentences should be very short and conversational. When writing out your thoughts, put each new idea on a separate line. Compound sentences don’t sound right when read out loud. This probably goes against everything you learned before. Keep in mind you’re not writing to impress a teacher, you’re writing to connect with your listeners.
3. Use common words. If you’ve ever worked in the business world, clichés like “Let’s make sure we’re on the same page” are so common, you probably use them and don’t even realize it. Practice using short, clear, descriptive words that make your point obvious.
David Candow uses the example of a weather broadcaster who refers to snow as “the white stuff.” It’s snow. Just say snow. I once saw a forecast that read “wintry wet precipitation is occurring near your vicinity.” I’m not kidding. I think the writers were being paid to be as vague as possible.
4. The best adjective is a verb. A single verb can be far more powerful than a series of adjectives. One of The Host Whisperer’s favorite examples is this:
“Alice flits into the room." Now that’s descriptive!
5. Imagine yourself speaking to a trusted friend. This is one of my favorite pieces of advice. I found that when I record the Public Speaker podcast it helps me to start by saying, “Hey Linda, did I ever tell you…” Linda is a very good friend of mine and it makes me talk differently because she’s someone I’ve known since I was 4 years old.
I got the idea for doing this after reading about an NPR host who changed his opening cue of “three, two, one” and replaced it with “now I’m going to tell you a story.” His audience never hears this, and yet it puts him in a more conversational frame of mind. Another host moves his eyes several words ahead when he’s reading a script on air. He looks away from the page when ending a sentence. This helps him feel and sound more like a story teller than an announcer. I do the same thing with the podcast—that’s why if you compare The Public Speaker audio with the text on the website you’ll notice slight variations between the two.
If you only remember one thing, let it be this: When recording yourself, always remember to be you and sound like you. Your audience will always be able to tell when you’re trying to sound like someone you're not. When I started podcasting these tips from The Host Whisperer really helped me and I sincerely hope they help you to sound like a better. Click to read more about David Candow.
This is Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker. Helping you lead, influence, and inspire through better communication. Do you wish you got an email from me letting you know the new podcast is available? Join my newsletter to get weekly updates and get a free bonus.
Do you struggle with difficult conversations? Do you procrastinate when it comes to delivering feedback? Do you know how to effectively persuade and influence others? Learn this and more in my book Smart Talk. Radio personality, Maureen Anderson called it “The owner’s manual for your mouth!” Visit www.smarttalksuccess.com to get your personally signed copy.
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