Alicia Sedgwick: How to Communicate Effectively – Find Your Voice and Use It
Effective speaking is what distinguishes a successful professional from everyone else in today’s competitive environment. Even more importantly, today’s post-Covid19 world will continue to depend heavily on social media and online platforms, and your effectiveness “on camera” will be key to your business and social success.
It is well known that people are more afraid of speaking in public than they are of dying. This has become even more prevalent in people’s fears now that they are forced to speak online and on camera, following Covid and all the restrictions that were around it, and so many people now working from home and in online meetings.
Alicia Sedgwick is a professional Communication Coach, Corporate Trainer, and MC based in the Principality of Monaco, with an extensive background in the Entertainment and Events Industry. She is also the author of the international bestseller “Communicating Through Change”.
She was working non-stop throughout the pandemic, and lockdowns, because her clients and students had been desperate to learn and develop their skills to communicate online. This is continuing. People who have never before had to deliver webinars, and operate meetings virtually, have been in contact with Alicia to navigate their way through being effective in an online capacity. It is scary, frightening, and daunting for many.
Alicia Sedgwick is going to give tips and techniques to communicate online and in person freely and confidently.
The main point everyone needs to know is that whenever you speak, it is never about you. If you are shy and you are self-conscious whenever you have to talk to people, the great thing is that actually your conversation and presentation are not about you. It is about your audience – what do you want them to think, feel, or do as a result of your speaking? Straight away, the onus is off you. Just think about how you feel when someone talks to you – you want to feel that they are interested in you, that they are not uncomfortable talking to you, and that they are confident and engaged. That is how you want your listener to feel when you speak. You have to present yourself in such a way that they do feel relaxed and immensely at ease in your presence.
Also, every presentation or communication you do or give is still a conversation. It seems a little one-sided, but it is still a conversation. And when you have a conversation, you do not speak all the time. You think about what you are going to say and then talk. You can do the same when speaking on camera and in public. Take your time. Breathe. Your audience does not know what you are going to say, so they will never know if you make a mistake. Always, you are in control and command of what you are saying.
You still feel shaky, scared, and nervous. But remember, even though you feel wobbly inside and your body is shaking outside, your audience will not know. Because you are going to clench everything tight, tight, tight – your hands, arms, bottom, legs, stomach – and then release. Clench and release. Everything will calm down, and you will stop shaking. No one will know you are doing it, but the effect for you will be calming and composing.
Next, you have to achieve the effect of engaging with your audience. Just think that when you converse with someone, one on one, you look them in the eye. If you do not, or the person you are talking to does not, you think, why are they not looking at me? Are they not interested in me? They are looking over my shoulder, and so they are more concerned with someone else and not me. Are they trustworthy? Are they in control of themselves? Shy? From a different culture where it is not polite to look at me?
The same effect of looking someone in the eye has to happen online, on camera, and in person, whether we are speaking to one person, ten people, a hundred people, and more. First, on-camera – look at the camera. Not the screen. And the camera should be at eye level, or slightly above, so you are not looking down and the audience sees the top of your head, or the camera should not be too high so they are looking up your nose.
In person, everyone must feel that you are looking at them, so snake around the room with your eyes. Or, think one thought, one pair of eyes, one thought, one pair of eyes. And if your audience is sitting in the dark so you cannot see them? Know the room. Know where they are seated, and snake around as if they are sitting in those seats. It does not matter if someone is not actually in row 36 or seat number 100. The effect is that you are talking to everyone in the room, and they are important to you.
If you have notes that you need to refer to online – try to have the notes on the screen, behind the camera, or beside the camera so that you glance at them or refer to them but keep coming back to the camera or the audience loses you, and every time it happens, they lose interest in you.
In-person, if holding notes, try to keep them at a level so that you are not looking down at them, and have them to one side. If referring to a PowerPoint on a screen, try not to ever turn your back on your audience. Position yourself sideways onto the screen and stand slightly to the side so that you are still engaging with the audience, and you just turn slightly to point to the screen to highlight something on your slide.
Alicia Sedgwick talks about the 4 Ps when she teaches and trains her clients and students: Pitch, Pace, Pause, and Power.
Pitch – is the tone of your voice. Try to keep it to a lower register rather than higher, and try not to go up at the end of a sentence – it makes you sound less assured and commanding. Remember, your voice is your brand – what do you want your brand to sound like?
Pace – is the speed at which you speak. Do this exercise every day, three times before you speak – “Imagine an imaginary, menagerie, manager, managing, an imaginary, menagerie.” The commas tell you to take a breath, and this will give you the pace of your speaking.
Pause – to remind you to breathe, take your time to consider what you want to say, and refer to your notes.
Power – you have the power in the way you stand or sit – your power pose. Both feet firmly on the ground, and legs hip-width apart. Hands by your side when you speak in public, and on your lap, or the desk when seated on camera. Shoulders back and down. You have the power because you are in control of every presentation you do.
Keep still, keep strong, and feel the magic in the opportunity to share wonderful you whenever you speak.