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How to speak with enthusiasm
March 29, 2022
Learning how to speak with enthusiasm will change your speeches drastically. We’ve all heard speakers who can drone on in a monotone for hours, or just speakers who seem completely disinterested in what they’re presenting. When the speaker has such a complete lack of enthusiasm, it doesn’t matter how much of an expert they are. They may have more in-depth knowledge of their subject material than anybody else on the planet, but if they can’t speak about it with enthusiasm, no one is going to listen to them.
Conversely, if you can speak with enthusiasm, then people will listen to you talk about anything no matter how little expertise you might have. We’re not saying it’s a good thing to use your enthusiasm to fool the audience into thinking you know more than you do; it’s just that, when it comes to public speaking, the delivery matters just as much as the content.
Enthusiasm takes practice
And few things improve the delivery more than learning how to speak with enthusiasm. This is trickier than it may seem at first. You might love the subject you’re presenting, but that doesn’t mean you’ll speak about it enthusiastically. And it’s also easy to use too much enthusiasm, at which point it’s clearly artificial and off-putting.
The trick is to speak with enough enthusiasm to be engaging and interesting, without going overboard. Don’t worry- it’s really not as hard as it sounds. Here’s how to speak with enthusiasm:
How To Speak With Enthusiasm
Like we said, speaking with enthusiasm isn’t especially difficult, but there are some tips and tricks to make even easier.
Speak About Things You’re Interested In
The absolute easiest way to speak with enthusiasm is to pick topics that you’re already interested in. Think about how you talk to people in your everyday life. When you and your spouse or roomates are talking about getting the bills paid, you’re likely somewhat disinterested. Your voice probably flattens out a bit, and you’re easily distracted from the conversation.
But when you start talking about what to eat for dinner, you likely perk up. Or maybe it happens when you’re discussing what show to watch that night. The volume of your speech increases, you focus more, and you’re much more engaged in the overall conversation.
This is doubly true when you’re giving a presentation. If you’re speaking about something that just doesn’t interest you, then you’re going to be disengaged. You’ll probably be speaking in something close to a monotone. You might even start to simply read off your slides or notes. There won’t be any energy in your delivery.
Interest sparks enthusiasm
When you pick a topic you’re already interested in, you’ll likely have things you want to say even before you start to work on your presentation. Once you start talking, your energy and excitement will be noticeable, and you may find that you actually have to dial it back a bit.
Speaking about topics that interest you is by far the best way to learn how to speak with enthusiasm. But you won’t always have that option, and we all know speakers who simply present information in a flat, disinterested monotone even when it’s a topic they love. So, clearly, there’s more we need to know about how to speak with enthusiasm.
Learn To Love The Topic
Perhaps, for one reason or another, you’ve found yourself having to present information on a topic that you’re unfamiliar with, or that you simply find boring. It happens, but it doesn’t mean you have to fake your enthusiasm in order to speak with enthusiasm.
Instead, you can learn to love the topic. This is one of the best tips we can give to anybody who’s have to speak about something that they don’t already have an interest in. It may seem uninteresting to you now, but you can probably learn to love it.
It’s simple- just engage with your subject material on a deep level as you prepare. Read about it as much as you can. Study it. Spend a lot of time with it. Find out why this topic is important and why your audience should care what you have to say about it.
You can’t be enthusiastic about things you don’t enjoy
This, by the way, is exactly what most writers do. Journalists, bloggers, and ghostwriters alike all have to write enthusiastically about topics they may be completely unfamiliar with, so they learn to love the topic. They do deep dives into the background information, they familiarize themselves with the subject at every level, and they learn as much as they can about it.
In the process, they discover that there are parts about that topic that truly interest them, often in surprising ways. The more they learn, the more interested they become.
Your favorite podcasts are also probably good examples of this. Podcasters definitely have to know how to speak with enthusiasm, because they don’t have a captive audience. If the listeners aren’t interested in what they’re saying, they can always hit pause and go listen to something else.
Approaching something new drives curiosity
Plenty of podcasters aren’t talking about something they already had an interest in. Instead, it’s more common for them to discover something new, learn about it, develop a deep interest in it, and then start talking about it.
Learning how to speak with enthusiasm may require that you learn to love an unfamiliar topic. But that’s a good thing, because it just might be the best way to learn how to speak with enthusiasm properly.
Bring The Energy
For most of us, if we’re genuinely interested in the subject we’re talking about, we’ll bring a natural enthusiasm to the stage. That just doesn’t happen for everybody, though. Plenty of college students have had to sit through terrible lectures, delivered in a monotone voice, by a professor who’s so fascinated by the subject material they’ve devoted their entire life to it.
So, clearly, some of us just struggle to speak with enthusiasm, period. Unfortunately, this can be very difficult to overcome. Often, the problem in these cases is a fear of public speaking, which is overwhelming everything else. Such a fear can easily crush any enthusiasm you might have had for the subject material.
One way to help combat the fear of public speaking is to thoroughly prepare for it. Rehearse your speech until you know by heart. This helps in another way, too- if you can include energy, changes in volume and tempo, and a general feeling of excitement in your rehearsals, those things will be noticeable in the final presentation, too.
Practice makes perfect
Rehearsing your speech this way is unlikely to eliminate your fear, but it will lessen it. It will also make it so that your fear won’t impact your speech, because you’ll be repeating what you’ve rehearsed. It’s almost like muscle memory at that point, and you’ll say exactly what you planned to say, and exactly how you planned to say it.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you eat and drink before you speak. It may sound trivial, but it can make a big difference to your speech. You’ll have more natural energy if you’ve eaten, and if you’re well hydrated. If you’re speaking on an empty stomach it’s going to be a lot harder to present with any kind of energy, because you’ll be physically less energetic.
Make It Personal
Another way of saying this is “live the topic.” You can’t always do this, of course. But with most topics you can find a way to make them an actual part of your life.
Lets say you’re speaking about financial software. One of the best ways to speak about that product with enthusiasm is to actually use it yourself. Make it one of your primary financial management tools. This way you aren’t just developing theoretical knowledge of the subject, you’re experiencing it firsthand.
One of the best ways to speak with enthusiasm is to speak about something you have plenty of personal experience with. This allows you to include personal stories in your speech, which always make it more interesting and allow your enthusiasm to really show.
It also gives you a lot of extra credibility when you talk. It makes it clear that this is something you actually know about, and tells the audience that your enthusiasm is totally genuine. Now they trust you, and they’re even more interested in what you have to say.
You’ll get firsthand knowledge about why that topic matters, too. People don’t just want to hear a bunch of facts, they want to know why they should care about what you’re saying. When you can talk about the actual benefits of your topic based on how it’s directly benefited you, you’ve got a much, much more interesting presentation.
We don’t just talk with our mouths, we use our whole body to communicate. If you want to know how to speak with enthusiasm, you have to learn how to use your body language as part of your speech.
This means using gestures and postures to convey your excitement. As you rehearse, try to find a full length mirror to stand in front of. Pay attention to the way you’re using your hands and arms, and how you’re standing. Do you like alert, interested, and passionate? Or does it look like you’re just standing there, doing nothing?
As you work on being animated, be careful not to go overboard. If you get too animated it can be distracting, and take focus away from your speech. Your body language should be emphasizing your words, not competing with them.
So, using hand gestures to support your words is a good idea, but pacing back and forth across the stage probably isn’t. In fact, it’s probably best to stand in one spot the whole time, and limit your full body movements to turning to face one side of the audience or the other. When you’re trying to be more animated during your speeche, focus on hand gestures and facial expressions.
Using body language in this way is one of the best ways to speak with enthusiasm. It’s actually a very easy method of turning up the energy in your speech, since most of us will naturally use hand gestures and facial expressions when we talk. It’s not necessarily something new you have to learn, it’s more like you just need to overcome any nervousness or stiffness that’s holding you back from expressing yourself normally.
Familiarity Breeds Contempt
One reason why so many college professors seem to have no clue how to speak with enthusiasm is that, while they may love their subject material, they’re too familiar with it. They’ve given the same lectures hundreds, if not thousands of times.
That particular lecture has lost any real interest to them- they give it because they have to, but their real interest lies elsehwere in their field. There’s all kinds of new and exciting research going on, but they’ve still got to give the same old lecture they’ve always given, because otherwise, their students won’t learn what they need to learn.
This is true for a lot of experts who are called upon to give public talks. They may love their topic, but they’ve given the same presentations, usually on a very basic understanding of their topic, thousands of times. It’s lost it’s freshness, and it’s hard to get excited about it anymore.
Remember the topic is new to your audience
If you want to fight this, you really have to focus on the audience. The material in your talk may be too familiar for you, but for them it’s all brand new. Keep your eyes on the listeners. Watch their faces. See how they react to what you’re saying.
Notice how their eyes light up when they realize they’ve just learned something they never knew before. Watch their growing fascination as you keep teaching them something brand-new.
This is how great speakers can keep giving talks on the exact same material for years without losing their ability to speak with enthusiasm. They may find the material a bit uninteresting, but they take joy in presenting it to people who’ve never heard it before. They draw their energy from the audience, and use that energy to make their speech interesting.
Learning how to speak with enthusiasm is easier than you might expect. It just takes a little practice, and once you’ve mastered it, your speeches will be a lot more engaging.