Public speaking tips from Julian Treasure

13 April 2017

The always brilliant Nick Tait sent me this useful, 10 minute video by Julian Treasure with some concise tips for public speaking.

As I’m preparing to speak at a conference later this month, I thought now was a good time to revisit this video. Here are some notes I’ve taken for quick reference:

The Seven Deadly Sins of speaking

  • Gossip
  • Judging
  • Negativity
  • Complaining
  • Excuses & Blaming - “Some people have a ‘blame-thrower’”
  • Embroidery, exaggeration, drama… all forms of lying
  • Dogmatism (confusion of facts with opinions)

Four cornerstones for speaking well

So how can we avoid these pitfalls? Julian has developed the following mnemonic:

“HAIL” - e.g. to greet or acclaim enthusiastically

  • Honesty - Be clear and straight
  • Authenticity - Be your own self: “Stand in your own truth”
  • Integrity - Be your word, be “trustable”
  • Love - Wish people well, act in good faith

Vocal toolbox

Here are some tools you can use to vary the quality of your speaking and help get your message across:

  • Register Whether you speak in your nose, throat, or chest. Go low for depth and power.

  • Timbre How your voice feels (research says we prefer rich, smooth, warm. Get a coach if you need one to help improve the timbre with breathing, posture, and exercises.)

  • Prosody The sing-song meta-language. The opposite of monotone. Rhythm, cadence, melody.

  • Pace Vary the pace according to your message. Speed can convey energy and excitement, slowness can give weight and emphasis. Silence. Nothing wrong with that. Use silence instead of “ummmm” or “uhhh” and when you want the audience to think.

  • Pitch You can vary the pitch to create different levels of arousal.

  • Volume Loud can be exciting. Quiet can make people pay close attention to a specific piece. Broadcasting the whole time is called “Sod-casting”… imposing your sound on everyone all the time carelessly and inconsiderately.

Warm up your voice!

Your voice is an engine that needs warming up. Here are six exercises Julian does before every big conversation:

  1. Stand up. Arms up, deep breath in, and big sigh out. Ahhhhh.
  2. Lips: “Bah bah bah bah bah”
  4. “LALALALALALALA” (tip of the tongue)
  5. “RRRRRRRRRR” (Roll the Rrrrr to warm up the sides of the tongue)
  6. “Weeeoooaaahheeeooo” (known as “The Siren”)

Conscious speaking and listening

Julian concludes with a question. What would the world be like if we were speaking consciously and listening consciously in environments specifically designed for creating and receiving sound? Love this idea. Let’s make it happen.