Go With the Little Voice

by Stephen Boyd | March 15, 2005

In public speaking, there are times when a little voice inside you seems to say, “Leave this out,” or “Add this line,” or “Stop here.” Sometimes something totally unplanned just seems to come out of your mouth. Don’t fight this urge—encourage it. Some of your best ideas will come to you as you are speaking; you may think of a story or sentence that you had never practiced that seems just right at that moment.

The point of this article is to give you tips on how to encourage the little voice to speak to you as you are presenting to an audience. Practice encourages this intuitive skill that will enhance the quality of your speech. Each time you practice your presentation, remembering material takes less effort and you feel more comfortable connecting with your audience at a personal level. This encourages the little voice to work for you because you are more relaxed.

Expose your mind to as much new material as possible. This does not mean simply looking for material for your speech, but being open to ideas and stories you find reading nonfiction, newspapers, journals, traveling, and talking to people. With this background, new material seems to come to you readily as you are in the moment of speaking to a specific audience. I find this especially true with reading the newspaper. A point that I had not considered in my most recent practice session will often pop up during my speech based on an article that I’ve read recently.

Expect the little voice to speak to you during your presentation. Pausing occasionally to let the audience catch up is also a time when intuition kicks in and you may add a line or example that fits exactly what you are discussing. Anticipate the little voice just as you anticipate looking at your notes at the right time.

Don’t be afraid to speak the new or unexpected thought when it comes to you as you are speaking. I have found that an idea that comes to me in the middle of a speech is usually better than any thought I had planned to say at that moment. In addition, be sure to write down the new material as soon as possible after finishing so that you can add it the next time you make that point in a speech. Of course, don’t use this an excuse to go rambling off on some unrelated story!

Preparation is essential of course, but the little voice we call intuition, telling you to change or add a thought in the middle of your speech, can add quality and depth to your next presentation.

About the Author

Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively. See additional articles and resources at http://www.sboyd.com. To book Steve, call 800-727-6520 or email him through his website.

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