By: Ian Luebbers, Founder of Minerva,
When most entrepreneurs put together their pitch, they focus primarily on the words they are going to say. This seems sensible. After all, without words you wouldn’t be able to convey your message.
But it turns out, words are the least important part of your pitch.
According to a widely reported study, the actual words you speak may make up just 7% of your overall communication. The other components are your vocal expression (38%) and your body language (55%). Think of your words as components of a circuit board – they serve an essential purpose, but they’re basically useless until you plug them into a power source and let energy surge through them.
In this article you’re going to learn how to make energy surge through your words using vocal expression and hand gestures.
1. Warm up your voice. A vocal warmup is a quick and easy way to get blood flowing to your vocal chords and make sure your voice is smooth and strong when you step on stage. Here is an excellent vocal warmup that I use everytime I deliver a pitch or a speech (skip to 7:42). Now sometimes, a warmup isn’t possible. An elevator pitch is often completely unexpected (which is why you should use Jaime Sutton’s incredible system to prepare for them). However, a vocal warmup should be nonnegotiable any time you have a pre-planned pitch.
2. Speak slowly. Speaking slowly conveys power and confidence. Picture a king addressing his subjects, or a judge delivering a verdict. Making a conscious effort to slow down your speed of speech, even if it feels uncomfortable at first, can inject authority into your pitch.
3. Pause strategically throughout your talk. Pausing, like speaking slowly, makes you appear powerful and composed and helps you emphasize important points. Think of a pause as bolding your last statement. In fact, if you want to convey even more authority, pause in the middle of your sentences. This shows that you have no fear of being interrupted, which is a hallmark trait of powerful figures.
4. Vary the pitch of your voice while speaking. If you want your listeners to hang on your every word, you need to vary the pitch of your voice in various ways throughout your speech. Your voice should rise and fall as you speak, always ending on a downward drop at the end of important statements. If you listen to powerful leaders, you’ll notice that they always drop the pitch of their voice at the end of impactful sentences.
5. Alternate the speed of your speaking. While speaking slowly should be the default, you don’t want to put people to sleep by keeping the same rhythm throughout the entire pitch. Practice speaking faster at some parts and slower at others in order to keep your audience’s attention.
Follow these tips and your listeners will be hooked by every word out of your mouth. Now let’s cover the essentials of hand gestures.
1. Keep your hands relatively close to your body. Too far out and you’ll look over- dramatic.
2. Make all of your movements deliberate and purposeful. Again, think of a king, slow and sovereign.
3. Keep your palms turned up the majority of the time to project openness. This will help you appear warm and truthful.
4. Practice your hand movements beforehand to ensure that they are smooth and natural. A few practice sessions will have your hand gestures looking top notch.
There you have it. Next time you give a pitch, you’ll be amazed at the difference vocal expression and hand gestures make in engaging and impacting your listeners. Incorporate these tips and your next pitch may be your best ever.
About the Author:
Ian Luebbers is the founder of Minerva, a startup dedicated to helping introverted tech entrepreneurs nail their pitches effortlessly and instantly build authentic connections with anyone in the room. You can download the report Speak Like Steve Jobs: The Introvert’s Secret Guide to Nailing Your Next Business Pitch for free here.