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How do your listeners perceive you?

By Richard White – Master Trainer: Think on Your Feet®, Writing Dynamics™ and Grammar on the Rocks™.

The impression we make when we’re speaking is important. Whether we’re presenting, speaking on the phone or having a chat at the watercooler; the listener’s understanding of you is crucial to your credibility. So, let’s focus on two key factors that influence perception:

What we’re saying and how we say it

Obviously, our content should be accurate and authentic, but also it must be clear and well structured, ensuring that listeners can easily follow and remember our message. Breaking content down into key points and then linking the points with simple logical structures helps with this.

Example: If we’re describing an action, we could use time to link our points e.g. beginning, middle and end or yesterday, today, tomorrow. We explore this and show you how to do it very quickly, even when you’re actually speaking, in our Think on Your Feet® workshop.

Most of us don’t like our speaking voice when we hear it recorded

Some go to extremes to change it, for example: Margaret Thatcher reportedly used voice coaching to significantly drop the pitch of her voice. You probably don’t need to do that. We find that speaking too quickly and without variation are common problems in presentations.

Top tip: Listen to a professional speaker that you like, newsreaders are good examples; record a short passage of them speaking and then speak along with the recording. Try to match how they vary their speed, pitch and volume. Once you’ve got a feel for speaking in that manner you can mirror it in your presentations. Be careful though, you need to stay authentic to yourself. We work on these aspects of voice in our The Skilled Presenter™ workshop.

Many things influence listeners’ perception and we cover a lot of them in our Think on Your Feet® and The Skilled Presenter™ workshops. To get you off to a good start, before attending the workshops, work on what you say and how you say it.

Find out more about the workshops: