9 Public Speaking Tips from a Slam Poet

Adobe Spark is a suite of applications designed by Adobe System to help people create and share stories with graphics and videos.


Pages Matam

The team at Adobe Spark recently reached out to me to share a blog post that they had written. It features Pages Matam, a Cameroonian artist who now lives near Washington D.C. Among other things, Matam is a two-time National Poetry Slam champion. His first book, The Heart of a Comet, was named a 2014 Best New Book by Beltway Poetry Quarterly.

Below is a summary of nine tips from Matam on how to improve your voice when you speak in public, regardless of the type of speech or presentation. I stress the importance of these points in my trainings, so it was great to see them all captured and synthesized in one place. The complete post can be found here.

1. Enunciate.

It is important to exaggerate the shape of your mouth. It might feel funny but it forces you to slow down and helps your audience understand you.

One exercise that I recommend to my clients is to place a wine cork between your teeth and then speak for four or five minutes. After the exercise, you will find that you can enunciate much better. Your jaws might feel a tiny bit sore immediately after the exercise, so don’t do the exercise immediately before you go on stage.

2. Breathe from your diaphragm.

Breathing from your diaphragm produces a better sound. It also slows down your heart rate and reduces nerves and stress.

3. Use pacing, sound and intonation.

Emphasize important words practice delivering them in different ways. What are the most important words or phrases that you want people to remember?

4. Project from your diaphragm.

To get the most support from your breath, inhale and allow your stomach to expand. Speak as you exhale. The result will be a fuller, projected sound that won’t strain your vocal chords.

5. Stand up straight.

Standing up straight while speaking results in a better sound. Lift your chin slightly and imagine a string is pulling the top of you head up. When you stand up straight and assume a strong, confident stance, your audience will be able to hear it in your voice.

6. Slow down.

Many people speak too quickly when they speak in public. It is important to slow down so that your audience can follow you. Emphasize important points and remember to pause.

7. Warm up before speaking.

Stay hydrated and warm up your mouth and vocal chords before speaking. Sing or hum to warm up vocal chords, massage the muscles on the sides of your jaw to release tension, trill your tongue, flutter your lips like a horse. There are many ways to warm up vocally.

8. Give the microphone room.

Keep the microphone about three inches away from your mouth to produce the best sound. If you hold it too close to your mouth, the sound will be too loud or distorted; if you hold it too far, and the audience will not hear you.

9. Nobody likes the sound of their own voice.

When you hear your voice in a recording, it sounds unfamiliar because you are used to hearing it from inside your head, with all the vibrations inside your skull.

The complete post can be found here. Be sure to check out some of the other great posts on the Adobe Spark blog.


About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
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1 Response to 9 Public Speaking Tips from a Slam Poet

  1. Pingback: 8 Great Reads for Preachers - Week of Oct. 3 - David M. Pett

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