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Be Conversational

 

Techniques Public speaking > Speaking Tips > Be Conversational

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Speak in a conversational way, as if you were talking to one person, not a roomful. For example:

  • Use slight pauses as if what you are saying has just occurred to you.
  • Use everyday words.
  • Use inclusive language, such as 'we' rather than 'you' or 'they'.
  • Ask questions (rhetorical ones, which you then answer).
  • Gesture with your hands, shaping what you say.
  • Smile and nod, like you are talking to good friends.

 

Example

Hello everyone. It's good to see you and I hope the traffic wasn't too bad for you. It's actually traffic I'm going to chat about tonight, and what it's doing to the air and to our children.

Discussion

When speaking in a public engagement or to a business group, it is not uncommon for speakers to adopt a formal mode of speech. This puts a distance between the speaker and the audience. It also positions the speaker in a superior position. Whilst this is accepted by many audiences, this is not always true and there are times when a conversational tone is more effective.

Something not to do in conversational presentations is to use words like 'er' and 'um' to fill gaps as most people do in everyday conversation. Also avoid floppy language such as 'like', 'sort of' and 'you know' unless you really know what you are doing and this is for specific effect.

It is important in this that you actually feel as if you are in a conversation with friends, which has a lot to do with your attitude and how you think about yourself and the audience. The risk, if this is done badly, is that you may appear false and too 'chummy'. There are many times when the audience want you to be superior as this provides them with certainty and confidence about the subject. 

See also

Conversation techniques

 

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