Easy on The Preach!
Tips for helping speakers sound less “preachy” and more “powerful”
I recently received e-mail from a reader who thought his speeches sounded too preachy. He asked me to you give him some pointers on know how to make his presentations more entertaining and less preachy. Another way of asking the same question is “How do you sound more natural and less like a know-it-all?” I responded with these tips on “transforming preachy into powerful…”
Don’t sound like a know-it-all
Maybe you are a know-it-all…or at least in your field. And that’s precisely why people have come to hear you speak. If you are an authority then your credentials speak for themselves.
The audience expects you to have knowledge they don’t have and you’ve already been introduced as a know-it-all. So relax and get conversational. What you want to avoid is adopting a tone of voice or speaking style that alienates your audience and makes them feel ridiculed, demeaned, or preached to.
Here are a few suggestions that might help you ease up on the preach while still getting your message across.
- Examine your text
- Write your message for the ear rather than the eye. Remember your audience will be hearing what you have to say. They won’t be reading it.
- Use words that are easy for your audience to understand
- Avoid technical jargon.
- Keep your sentences short but descriptive.
- Avoid statements that sound like edicts: You should…You must…
- Include your audience with statements like, “As you already know…” “I’m sure you’ve discovered….”
- Sprinkle your message with humor.
- Tell stories and anecdotes in third person. ” I have a friend”… My father always told me…”
Examine your style
Don’t read your text, no matter how good you think it is. You can’t maintain a conversational tone or have good eye contact if your head is down and you are reading.
- Speak to your audience not at them
- Breathe naturally
- Use hand gestures that are inclusive
- Don’t point. Use an open hand when gesturing to the audience
- Vary your volume and rate to keep interest and add intrigue
- Move away from the lectern
- View your audience as valued friends
- View your message as one to be shared
Relax and have fun with your presentation! Your audience will be more receptive to your message. They’ll leave the room feeling entertained and not preached to.
If you have a question about speaking style or presentation tips, please email Beverly at info @