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Executive Voice

Samantha Richards’ Top 3 Tips to Feeling More in Control When Speaking Publicly

Samantha Richards

If you’re one of the lucky ones in life, your career made itself known early on. However, if you’re anything like Samantha, it was elusive until after the age of forty. She was the ten-year-old kid whose teachers repeatedly told her she was stupid and wouldn’t amount to anything in life. Sadly, those hurtful words buried themselves in her heart, and for the next three decades, Samantha didn’t believe in herself.

“To understand why Building Voices Public Speaking was born, I feel it’s important to understand my drivers to change career. To call my childhood difficult would be oversimplifying my experience. My life was one of displacement, violence, and a constant need to adapt to a new environment and culture when living in six countries: Malta, Iran, Africa, Cyprus, UK, and now Australia,” Samantha states.

Samantha has worked in various sectors, including finance, law enforcement, education, government, mining, recruitment, retail, security, and not-for-profit in an administrative capacity. At the age of forty, she had her last child. Eventually, she tried reentering the workforce and was told she was too skilled, would get bored and leave.

Sixty-five job rejections later, Samantha decided to take matters into her own hands. Exploring other aspects of her abilities, she discovered she was good at public speaking. She entered speech competitions and won, subsequently competing at the highest Toastmasters level in Australia. Consequently, parents at her daughter’s school found out and approached her to help their children’s presentation anxiety.

Teachers also reported that they’re not fully trained in public speaking. However, they are in the speaking and listening aspect of the curriculum. They aren’t taught methods to show a child how to have a confident posture or the techniques to control their voice to keep an audience’s attention. 

Samantha realised a social need for children to develop skills not fully learned during their formative years at school, outside of debate and drama. There was a practical demand in an area that should better cater to our children’s needs.

Building Voices Public Speaking was launched in 2016. The Junior Public Speaking Program, designed for children from ages seven to twelve, was offered at her daughters’ school. In the program, primary school-aged children acquire essential life-skills. They build on leadership training, resilience, confidence, and overall mental health and wellbeing as they learn how to speak publicly. Samantha also teaches them how to stay safe online through a presentation that parents and children in Australia can watch together.

Parents and other professionals began approaching Samantha to improve their presentation delivery. To date, she has coached CEOs, directors, radio hosts, founders, lawyers, government employees, IT specialists, research scientists, teachers, nurses, and it doesn’t stop there.

These are Samantha’s top three tips that will help you in your public speaking journey.

  • Organise your speech because winging it might leave you feeling embarrassed!    

Samantha has seen some good public speakers wing it with disastrous results. They’ve forgotten what they were saying because they got distracted by someone in the audience, then panicked and felt mortified at the end of their delivery.

If you don’t organise your speech, you could find your audience feeling overwhelmed by your message. Therefore, before you organise your speech, you’ll need to decide on the reason for giving your presentation, which will be central to your speech. See if it fits into one of four main categories:

  1. Inform
  2. Entertain
  3. Inspire
  4. Persuade

When writing your speech, you want to say something practical and of value to others. What you say needs to be worth listening to and expressed with sincerity and skill, even if you’re delivering it with humour.

Once you’ve decided which category your speech fits, you can begin writing it accordingly, with an opening, body, and closing, which might have a call to action. Speeches may fall into two categories, such as persuasive with an informative element.

  • Body language speaks volumes  

 We communicate primarily by body language (55% of the time) and tone of voice (38%). Only a small proportion of the words we use are heard (7%). Therefore, we filter the events in our lives through our conscious and unconscious minds before giving them meaning.

With such a high percentage of our communication through body language, it’s essential as a public speaker to be aware of how our body speaks to the listener. You should become aware that:

  • Posture tells a story. Rounded shoulders can convey a lack of confidence, or you’re not comfortable.
  • Movement and gestures should have a purpose when public speaking. These are the non-verbal language we use to communicate, including legs, head, shoulders, arms, and hands. 
  • Eye contact is a powerful tool to communicate and is essential for connecting and establishing credibility with the audience.
  • Facial Expressions are the most ignored when people think about what they are saying. When delivering a presentation, your facial expressions will help tell your story, so they should match what you’re saying.
  • Vocal variety keeps your audience’s attention

Every time you present a speech, your voice, body, and mind are involved in getting the message across to the audience. However, since the voice is the connection between the speaker and the listener, vocal variety is perhaps the most important instrument you can use to make your speech interesting. An effective public speaker uses between 168-178 words per minute.

A good speaking voice is:

  • Easily heard due to clear pronunciation and volume control.
  • Pleasing, carrying a feeling of friendliness.
  • Sincere, showing the real personality and authenticity of the speaker.
  • Strong, conveying energy and power, even when not particularly loud.
  • Animated and full of expression, not emotionless and dull.

Record yourself presenting and listen to what you’re saying. Do you sound interesting? Are you using the powerful pause to create more impact in what you want to convey?

You can get in touch with Samantha Richards here.

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