The first step we took was to ask people to speak for two minutes on a topic of their choice. They were given about two days to prepare for it. The topic could be any topic. Since we can’t do the workshop for everyone in the office in one go, we repeated the sessions for different teams.
There were patterns in how people performed in the elocution.
One team had a lot of people taking on wrong posture or showing up with ineffective body language. Some people stood still and some were too animated. Some ruffled their hair too much, some used the wall to support themselves. Most people stared outside the window or looked at one fixed position during their speech.
Hardly a few demonstrated clear diction and correct language. Common behavior included taking unnecessary pauses, speaking too fast, having a strong accent, speaking monotonously and incorrect tenses in the language.
Many of the participants were scared. Most experienced trembling feet, faster heartbeats and stress. Some forgot what they came up to speak and some couldn’t control themselves.
Adherence to time limit
Most of the people did not rehearse and time their speeches. We had a timer visible to the speaker and that increased stress levels for many. Hardly anybody finished on time. Most wound up before two minutes and some crossed the time limit and had to leave the speech half delivered.
We provided individual feedback and discussed these points. People worked on themselves and we now see a significant improvement in their oral communication. The confidence level has shot up tremendously, the body language and posture are much better and the way people speak has also improved. We have also had people who realized that they could actually speak well in English, it was only their fear that was stopping them.
The group setting, individual feedback and daily meetings allowed Magneteers to practice these principles. We have Monday meetings as well where people can make their presentations; some people have already taken presentations for the first time and have been very happy with their performance.
There were people who were good with elocution. They also got tips on how they can deliver even better speeches. There were people who were simply afraid to speak up, they were able to go beyond their fears and actually do very good presentations due to personal coaching.