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[Speaking-Out-Loud December 2012]The gifts of voice
December 20, 2012

Welcome to the December Issue of Speaking-Out-Loud's monthly E-zine to help you effectively 'talk your walk'.

If this E-zine speaks to you, then quite likely it will talk sense to your friends, family or work mates too. Please pass it along.

You might even suggest that they sign up! The page to send them to is here Speaking-Out-Loud

Remember, if you have any questions you're most welcome to ask them through my contact form. I enjoy hearing from my readers and will respond as soon as I am able.

Happy speaking. In the words of Carol Duerksen;

Christmas happens
every time
someone reaches out
to touch another life with love

That's my wish for you, that you are blessed.


In this Issue

If you don't have time to read the whole ezine, click on the topic that interests you. This month you will find:

Susan's Spiel

Christmas Time/Family Time
When the 'jingle' of Christmas begins to jangle, when the 'ho' turns to howl it's time for quiet simple pleasures. Reach for a story to read out loud. Find out more ...

Gifts to Give Yourself - Sounding Intelligent
Socks for Martha, rocks for Arthur but, what about me?
Would a vocal makeover help? How we speak and the words we use, matter. It can make the difference between taken seriously, or dismissed.

How the Grinch Stole PowerPoint
Most of you will be familiar with that nasty but wonderful Dr Suess creation, the Grinch and his story about how he stole Christmas. Now here's another especially for public speaking powerpoint users.

Emotion while Speaking
Lessons from Obama on the art of giving a speech in difficult and tragic circumstances. Public speaking coach Denise Graveline identifies and outlines six strategies to do more than cope.

Preparing Christmas Speeches
If you have a speech to prepare and haven't got to it yet, it is not too late. Help is here.

I am always looking for ways to improve the site. If you see any errors or would like to contribute in any way, please accept this invitation to contact me through my About Me page.

Thank you for reading.

Happy speaking, happy holidays, and may your words do much more than pass sentence,


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Christmas Time/Family Time

It's that time of year when many families and friends get together. Uncles and aunts arrive, cousins, small and big, call by, out-of-town friends drop in ... It's a time of giving, getting, sharing and yes, honing your public speaking skills. That doesn't always mean making a speech. It could be reading a story.

Some of the best and most memorable gifts, for children as well as adults, are the simple ones: a story well read.

This collection of Christmas Stories contains two of my favorites: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and The Gift of the Magi by American short story writer, O. Henry.

Both are wonderful and even though you may have read them to yourself or heard them multiple times, they remain fresh and vibrantly alive.

If you are not used to reading aloud here's some tips as a guide.

  1. Read the story several times silently to yourself before attempting to read it out loud to others.
    That will familiarize you with the flow of the story and the language used.
  2. Next try some, or all of it, out loud. Use the punctuation as a guide for when to pause or stop.
  3. Experiment with 'voices' for the characters. Scrooge is mean. Make him sound mean. Showing and telling make the story compelling listening.
  4. Experiment with volume. Which bits need to be louder? Which passages call for a quiet voice?
  5. How fast or slow should you go? One speed seldom fits an entire story. Where do you need to slow or speed up?
  6. Practice, listening to yourself, and observing audience response, will help you improve

In a 2009 newsletter I included an article called Dr Suess and the Art of Getting it Right Out Loud on the benefits of reading aloud. It's a transferable skill. Reading aloud will improve the quality of your public speaking. That article has links into pages on my site to help with developing specific aspects, as well as to extensive suggestions for good read aloud titles.

Go on. When the kids are getting jumpy from hyper-stimulation, or you simply want to feel a real sense of community turn off the television, the computer, or whatever electronic gizmo is claiming attention and read a story out loud.

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Gifts to Give Yourself - Sounding Intelligent

If there was a choice between sounding intelligent and sounding like an air-headed Valley Girl (or boy), which would you choose?

The answer that most give would is they'd like to sound smart!

Please don't sell yourself short. Sounding intelligent is easily achieved in 5 steps.

  1. Speak more slowly and thoughtfully
    When you are speaking deliberately or carefully you are seen as a 'thinking' person. You've considered your responses and therefore they'll be more likely to be listened to. If you're a spontaneous reactor, a blurter, mentally count to three before opening your mouth. Give yourself time!
  2. Cut the fillers
    If your habitual speech is peppered liberally with hesitations like 'um', 'er', 'you know' or similar the net result is a dilution of your message and authority. It weakens you in the ears and eyes of your audience.
  3. Stand tall
    When you're standing upright it becomes harder to drawl, to 'verbally slouch'. The energy flows through your speech more directly and positively. You are seen as confident, capable and authoritative as a consequence.
  4. Articulate your words clearly
    Pay particular attention to the endings. Listen carefully to hear if you convert words ending in '-ing' to '-ink' as in 'nothink', 'somethink' and 'anythink'.
    Get 'd' and 't' unmuddled and sounded wherever they are; at the end or in the middle of a word. Do you say 'goo-bye' or 'goodbye'? 'Dunno' or 'don't know'?
  5. Lose slang
    Slang pegs a person to their peer group. If you want social mobility get rid of your habitual speech markers.
    These can include sloppy grammar as well as vocabulary. Prime examples are: 'real smart' or 'real quick' in place of 'very smart' or 'very quickly'. Don't lose the '-ly' endings to words. Check out the frequency too of 'like','whatever', 'so', 'oh my god', 'fer shur' (for sure) as in:'Like, whatever! So! I was, like, oh my god, I mean, like ... fer shur.'

Yes, I do know that sounding intelligent and being intelligent are two different things and that they don't necessarily come paired. However sounding 'real stupid' when you're not is very limiting.

For more about sounding intelligent and how the sound of your voice impacts on how you are perceived check this page on Voice Image .
And click this link for help with pronunciation.

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How the Grinch Stole PowerPoint

Here's a Christmas present, a wonderful parody of the Dr Suess story 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas', for all of you who give presentations, and for anybody who appreciates clever verbal dexterity. It's lovely fun; a plea for good business communication made with humor from Andrew Dhlugan of six minutes - a superb public speaking website chock full of resources.

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Emotion while Speaking

How do you handle the welling up of tears while you're speaking? This is a question many public speakers ask. When the content, or context, of your speech is emotionally charged coping with the need to weep and continuing to speak can be difficult. A recent tragic event has provided us with an exemplar.

Denise Graveline, public speaking coach and communications consultant from The Eloquent Woman put together an excellent post: Tears while speaking: Lessons from President Obama, on the subject. In it she identifies and outlines six useful strategies used by Obama in the speech he gave responding to the massacre in Connecticut. It's worthwhile reading.

Preparing Christmas Speeches

If you've got a speech to prepare and haven't started yet, it's not too late.
Head over to Christmas speeches and you'll find an easy-to follow, step-by-step template with an example and a selection of quotes to use.

And very lastly, thank you to those of you who rushed off to get my ebook; Public Speaking Games - from fear to fun in 28 ways when I announced its arrival in my last newsletter. It felt good to see the notifications coming through. Do let us know how you get on with it.

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Thank you for reading the December Issue of Speaking-Out-Loud. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please feel free to contact me with any questions through the form at the foot of the Speaking Out Loud Page. I love hearing from my readers!

If you liked this issue of Speaking-Out-Loud, please feel free to send it on to any friends or family. The site url to forward so they can subscribe is Speaking-Out-Loud.

Until next time,
Happy speaking,


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