In part one of our series, I Introduced the Delivery Core Four (if you missed it read it here). These are the four critical components of communication outside of the words that we use: Intonation, Facial Expressions, Hand Gestures & Movement.
This week we are focusing on Delivery Core Four #1 — our voices, the primary instrument used to convey our core message to an audience. And just like a instrument, we must learn to use it (that is if we want to be musician… err, I mean, communicator). To kick off this topic, I’ve created a short introduction video below… take a look.
Your voice is an instrument to share your ideas, experiences and emotions with others, so you better make sure it’s in tune.@theheathersager
Through delivering hundreds of presentations to audiences, big and small, I’ve learned that that when it comes to using your voice, there are five elements you need to MASTER to be an exceptional communicator. I call these the 5 Ps of Vocal Delivery.
Each P has significant importance to relaying the meaning of your message and each should be used with variation to keep your audience engaged.
This is the speed of your words (commonly referred to as rate of speech). Do you tend to be a fast talker, like me? My fifth grade, my teacher awarded me a certificate labeled “Fastest Talker West of the Mississippi”. I wore my speed like a badge of honor, though looking back, I don’t think he was trying to encourage it… Nonetheless, when you talk faster than your audience can follow, you rob them of the opportunity to truly hear your message.
In contrast, if you speak too slowly, your audience will become bored, even annoyed or worse, because you are burning through their most precious resource, time!
There’s a reason why audio books give you choices on how you listen to the speed of the narration. You can speed it up or slow it down to your liking. This is because we each process the transition from hearing the words to making sense of them in our brains differently (I know, technical right?)
But unlike an audiobook, our audience doesn’t get to choose how they hear our message. It’s up to us to deliver at a comfortable speed for the majority.
If you get excited and become Speedy Gonzales, it’s ok. It shows your enthusiasm, but just be sure to immediately Slow. It. Down. Pace variation keeps your audience interested. Find your blend between slow, medium, and fast, because one of the same over and over and over again gets really boring. So, be strategic and practice varying your pace and you will keep your audience engaged.
We’ve all seen Pitch Perfect, so no need to over complicate this (and no need for a riff off). You know that your voice can go high or low. Similar to pace, variation is extremely important. If you keep your voice monotone, which literally means one tone, you will be Eore. And if you are Eore, you will put your audience to sleep. So let’s not do that, ok?
Vary the pitch and tone of your voice nautally and strategically by practicing your inflection. When you emphasize certain words you draw attention, similar to using italics or bold in copy. It tells your audience where you want them to pay attention, contrasts opposing sides of a topic, showcases sarcasm, shows curiosity or disbelief. Playing with variation in your tone allows you to be more expressive.
Avoid a big audience pet peeve: use inflection appropriately. If you are going to use an uptick in your tone at the end of a sentence, it better be a question. Few things are worse than a presenter who frequently ends sentences with a verbal question mark, when it wasn’t a question. Here’s an example using the word weekend. Wee – can be high, –kend should be low.
It is the wee-kend. That is a sentence.
It is the wee-kend? That is asking for someone to confirm your statement.
The later shows a lack of confidence and competency. Don’t unintentionally undermine yourself.
By power, I mean volume or loudness. More doesn’t always mean better, but too little can mean your audience misses important information.
For a moment, I want you to imagine a time when you were with a group of people and someone told a joke, but you missed the punch line. While everyone else laughed, you were confused trying to piece together what you missed, finally asking someone to repeat it. But by then, the humor had faded.
In that moment, how did you feel?
I have a hearing loss. And for those me, those moments happen often, even with the help of hearing technology. I feel it is my mission and my calling to draw attention to this when it comes to public speakers, because a person doesn’t have to have a hearing loss to be struck by the sword of low volume.
It’s your responsibility to ensure that everyone feels included and can hear the information because even a person with the best of hearing can miss a really important point when they are sitting int he back of the room. Most presenters do a fairly good job at projecting their voice during their core message; however, when they go off on a tangent, their voice drops low and quiet. Be mindful of this and don’t be afraid to use a microphone (even if you don’t think you need it, your audience might).
Oh, the power of the pause. This is the unsung hero when it comes to delivering information. We have so much that we want to share with our audiences. So many experiences, so many stories, so many golden nuggets, so much to teach them. Yet, if we don’t give them any time to absorb the information, especially in the most impactful moments, they aren’t going to hear it.
Taking a strategic pause allows your audience to feel emotions and more logically speaking, it allows their brains to catch up to your message.
I like to think of a strategic pause as this wonderful experience where you allow your audience to take the information that you’re sharing and try it on for size.
Imagine an exquisite, handmade gown created by a top designer. It’s hanging right in front of you. Sure, it’s stunning on the hanger, but that gown will come to life when you put it on. The same thing happens with your content. Delivering your message is like showing it to them on a hanger, but you need to give them a moment to try it on for size. I don’t mean full on exercises and activities (those can be important to), I’m just talking about allowing them to absorb your words.
Micro pauses are the moment where your ideas and their ideas to come together in this beautiful submersion where they can start making it their own.
We can all tell when a person truly believes what they are saying. When someone is absolutely jazzed, it’s hard not to get excited too. Energy and passion are critical if you want to spark action from your audience.
There’s a video that I watched this morning from my friend, Kindra Hall, that explains this so well. She says the biggest storytelling mistake is when people memorize, “they tell their words, they don’t tell their stories. There is a significant difference between the two.” Here’s the full video if you want to check it out.
There is a difference between telling words and sharing your story, and this same holds true for delivering your message.
Just like a cat can sense fear, an audience can sense passion. People know when you’re being authentic and when you’re delivering information that you actually care about.
If you want to inspire someone to do something, you have to ensure that all of these things come together, your pace, your pitch, your power, your pause… all of them wrapped together and added with that special spark called passion. People need to feel it. If you want your words to matter, if you want them to resonate in the way that you intend, you have to exude passion.
Many of these areas I touched on today might seem like comon sense, but as the famous quote goes:
“Just because it’s common sense, doesn’t mean it’s common practice.”Will Rogers
I challenge you to how evaluate how effective you are today with each of the 5 Ps. Take out your phone and record a 1 minute video of yourself. Don’t over think it — just introduce yourself, share where you went to school and what you do for a job. Just allow yourself to speak naturally. Then watch it.
I know, I know. You don’t want to. But please trust me when I say, it is the ONLY way you are going to elevate your skills to get to the level you dream about.
So, just go do it! But before you leave, tell me below – what resonated with you most from the 5 Ps and how will you use them?