As a speaker you’ll be remembered as much for your energy as for your words. Your energy conveys how you feel about your topic, and that has a powerful effect on your audience. You’re tapping into their emotions, not just their minds.
They’ll notice your energy the moment you start to speak. If it’s strong and vibrant they’ll be looking forward to hearing you. They’ll sit up and listen. If it’s not, they’ll start to be critical and distracted; their minds will start to wander.
Just imagine listening to the most boring person you know giving a presentation. What actually happens is that the audience don’t listen. They get bored, switch off, and start wishing they were somewhere else.
Energy changes everything. We’re not talking about jumping about like a clown, or waving your arms like a whirling dervish. We’re talking about an inner enthusiasm, a passion, a drive to get the message across. An energy that won’t be stopped. You’ll hear it in the voice; see it in the way the speaker holds themselves, stands and moves.
How can we harness this energy; this enthusiasm? You could run around the block just before you speak. That would certainly get your blood flowing and make you breathless, probably. But it won’t last and it won’t be effective. There are lots of ways to generate energy. We’ve found 3 ways that will work best.
First, really believe in what you’re saying. Get deeply into your subject, realise how important it is to you and your listeners. Make an emotional connection with it. When I was 15 I sat mock ‘O’ Levels (the early GCSE equivalents). I was told that I was going to fail all of them. Although I didn’t have a career in mind something told me that it wouldn’t be good to fail in this way. So I started to revise the subjects, ignoring my friends who were encouraging me to play football. What I found was that I started to become enthusiastic for the subjects and I wished I’m paid more attention in class. I passed 6 out of 7 (well, I was never going to get French!). Lesson learned.
Second, find great stories and examples that make your points and are interesting for you to tell and for your audience to listen to.
Third, get some practice in having more energy in your voice. Take a paragraph from a newspaper and highlight every 4th word. Then record yourself on your smart phone reading it twice. First time in a very boring voice, as boring as you can get. Second time emphasising the highlighted words as though you’re excited about them. Listen to the difference.
Perhaps the best advice we can give is for you to realise when you’re boring your listeners (that happens to every speaker at some time). That’s the time to lift your energy, your voice, your stance and your movement, maybe.
And then see how good you can be!