Scientific Research Identifies the Components of a Good Talk

Woman Giving Presentation

Communication is an essential part of everyday interactions within any organization. Leading researchers and communication analysts have studied more than 100,000 presentations given by a wide range of speakers to better determine what factors contribute to a speaker’s effectiveness and their ability to engage the audience.

Scientists and corporate communication consultants have identified four key communication areas that seem to differentiate average communicators from the most dynamic and effective communicators. These areas are best defined as: verbal, vocal, visual, and vital.[1]

Here are the top five speaking strategies that can be used to scientifically boost your credibility and keep any audience engaged during your talk.

  • Be cautious with your use of jargon. The better approach is to take time to define terms and acronyms, unless you are certain that your entire audience is aware of the term. Be sure to only use jargon, as needed, to avoid confusing your audience.
  • Avoid using “hedging” language. Hedging phrases like “I think”, or “kind of” are likely to reduce a speaker’s credibility. Instead, replace these phrases with “I recommend ” or “I believe”. The best way to become aware of the language choices you use is to have a friend or coworker listen to your talk or to record yourself speaking and play it back. Practice using stronger language in your talks and presentations to better convey credibility and authority.
  • Focus on speaking clearly and concisely. Communication analysts assert that the more succinct and focused the message, the more likely the audience will remember the message. Effective communicators tend to be able to deliver their messages in fewer words than the average communicator – boosting their audience retention. For your next talk, consider stripping away excess wording that may make your message more drawn out.
  • Be mindful of your vocal variety. Your voice is a powerful tool and instrument. You can affect your volume, your pitch, and your speech delivery. Scientists have found that varying your volume or pitch can have a significant impact on engaging your audience. When appropriate, convey excitement and enthusiasm to demonstrate your commitment to the message. Remember to leverage your body language as well  to help convey your message.
  • Infuse empathy in your talk. This is considered the “vital” portion of any presentation, talk, or conversation. Vital refers to the authenticity and honesty that is portrayed by the speaker. Researchers have found that effective communicators are found to be 1.3 times more persuasive due to their ability to communicate authentically with their audiences.1 Business communication consultants recommend speaking with passion and excitement when you address an audience. This may be easier said than done, but by reflecting on the goals of your talk and your interest in the subject matter, you will easily be able to demonstrate your passion. In addition, by using phrases to identify with the audience such as “I understand your…” in your message, will allow you to convey a sense of authenticity and warmth.

As you prepare for your next speaking engagement, try these strategies and see if you are able to better engage your audience. We would love to hear how you were able to implement these strategies in your daily communication. Feel free to share your communication experiences and any other additional strategies that have been successful for you with us on our Facebook page.

[1] https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/big-data-approach-public-speaking?mod=djemCIO_h