‘Straddling the Fence’ in Public Speaking

Posted on Posted in Color, Public Speaking

While many novice speakers tend to express too little emotion, there are a few who actually emote – express too much emotion for the given situation. Emoting is acting; delivering a speech is not. Your objective in your speech is to ‘straddle the fence’ in which you are neither expressing too much emotion not too little.

And, in this particular instance, I am talking about the speech versus the presentation. Those who emote tend to be reading their words as in a speech. Those who are giving presentations are hopefully speaking around their notes and emoting is generally not heard in this type of delivery.

[The one time when I advocate emoting is when you are reading to your young children at night. By all means, emote away! Exaggerate your facial expressions, play with your words, and be extremely colorful in your reading. Your children will enjoy it so much more.]

What is fascinating about emoting is that it often occurs by those who enjoy words, especially those who enjoy writing their own words and like hearing their own words. Of course I have certainly heard this style of delivery from those who are enamored by someone else’s words as well!

How do you know if you are emoting versus delivering a dynamic speech? First you must analyze your delivery. Record yourself by means of video. If you do not have a camcorder, audio will suffice. Play it back: listen carefully to your voice. Watch your facial expressions. Be very critical in your assessment. Did you look and sound natural? Or did you look and sound like you were acting on a stage?

The question remains as to how to stop emoting. The remedy is actually very simple. Be yourself. The problem for those who are overly expressive is that they are either trying to impress their audience with their words (don’t laugh, this is true) or they are attempting to make up for, what they may consider, a lack of expression. In the latter case, they have been standing on one side of the fence and now are on the other side, unsure of their middle ground

And this is where it gets a bit confusing. If, for example, you are looking to ‘wow’ your audience, stop trying to impress them. Instead treat your listeners just as if you were having a conversation in your living room. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is because you will be talking to your audience and not at them.

When you can learn to talk to your audience and not at them, your expression will come through as it should and you will be straddling the fence, not too far on one side or the other.

Learn to speak with color with Voicing It and discover your ‘real’ voice in the process.