We spend much of our time as Designers behind our screens working, but there are times when we have to leave the comfort of our desks and talk about our work. At our studio in Boston, we had the pleasure of having Dale Deletis come in and give a public speaking workshop. The workshop was a condensed version of one Dale gives at the Harvard Business School for new PhD candidates.

More About Dale

Dale is a speech consultant and a retired professor. He worked as a speech consultant at Simmons College, taught public speaking and English at Middlebury College in Vermont, and taught at Milton Academy. He regularly conducts speech and presentation workshops and he is the only speech consultant for all programs at Harvard Business School.

The Workshop

Here are some of the key take points we took away from Dale’s workshop:

1. Become a Public Person

A lot of the time we are private people; we are working at our desks, sending emails, etc. But public speaking requires that you become a public person because you now need to communicate ideas to others out loud. So the first step in speaking publicly is switching yourself from private to public.

2. People Judge Each Other, very Quickly

When we meet someone new, we quickly decide if they are competent and trustworthy. These are the two things we look for immediately when judging another person. According to research on how we perceive others, we decide these things in about 11 seconds, some researchers think it’s even less. When speaking publicly, there a very short amount of time to convince others that you are respectable and personable. So you have to come off as being these things right away through your speaking.

3. Don’t Be Boring

The first way to prove that you are competent is showing you know your stuff. Then to prove you are personable, you have to not be boring. If you are not boring then people will listen to you! You might be smart and say all the right words, but we value personality at a higher level than competency.

So how do we become not boring? Emphasis and tone. Emphasis is placing importance on specific words, and tone is the feeling/emotion you are trying to convey with the words. Together they give your words meaning and grab your audiences attention from the very beginning.

Remember, this is not acting! It is using emphasis and tone to convey a message while not boring the audience.

4. Power Poses!

Before you give a presentation or have an important meeting with a client, strike some power possess. Find a private place where you can throw a fist in the air and put a hand on a hip and let the pose give you the confidence to give that presentation!

Dale referenced the idea of power posses from Amy Cuddy, a social scientist who explains the effect of body language on confidence in her TED talk.

“Our bodies change our minds…and our minds change our behavior…and our behavor changes our outcomes.”
—Amy Cuddy, TEDGlobal 2012

5. Practice, Practice, PRACTICE

Dale said the most important thing to do is practice the words over and over until you’ve learned them. It is better to learn the presentation than memorizing because once you know the words you can add tone, emphasis, and appropriate conversational elements such as pauses and hesitation. Once you’ve learned it, it will become muscle memory, so when you see your slides you’ll know what to say.

The workshop was so informative and we’ll definitely be using his public speaking tips for our next client meetings and presentations!