9 Ways to Make Your Topic Sound Exciting…Even When It’s Not!
The other day, I attended a presentation at a two-hour “All-hands” meeting. There were 200 people in the room. There were 800 others listening to or watching via IPTV. Most of the presenters went over time, and their presentations were full of data and slides that were hard to read. People were squirming in their chairs, fighting to stay awake. However, one of the presenters spoke about the quarterly results, and suddenly, people were held in rapt attention. It wasn’t the numbers, because they were not remarkable. It wasn’t the setting, because that was plain. It wasn’t the lighting because that was terrible. Later, an audience member wrote,
“Don’t know if it’s P.C. to tell your VP that he was rocking today on the broadcast, although today was one of those days! I held my team call after the IPTV, and EVERYONE was extremely impressed.”
How do you hold interest when you have no help from your environment OR your topic?
Here are nine techniques that will turn your presentation from boring to bravo!
1. Vary the pace: Keep your overall pace between 140-160 words per minute so that people can follow you, but speed up or slow down for interest.
2. Vary the cadence: Ending sentences consistently open or closed is boring. Make definitive statements, but also ask questions and invite a response.
3. Vary the pitch: Varying pitch creates interest in the ear of the listener. If you have a low voice, raise it in pitch from time to time for emphasis. If your voice is high, bring it down when you make a definitive statement.
4. Vary the duration of the sound: Some words create a mental picture that is slow (like that one) or quick (like that.) Let your voice paint that picture by drawing out the slow pictures and clipping those words that represent speed. Try this with the previous sentence. Read it out loud and elongate, “drawing out the slow pictures” and clip “Clipping those words that represent speed.” In what other ways can you vary the duration of the sound for interest?
5. Highlight contrasting ideas: Not all ideas are the same. Consider this sentence: On the one hand, we are interested, and on the other, we are not. What can you do to make those two ideas sound different from each other?
6. Stress words that add meaning: First, you must be in touch with the meaning you are trying to convey. Once you are, it’s easier to relay that meaning. But in any event, make some of your words pop out so that they don’t all sound the same.
7. Create some mystery: A hushed tone or a long pause can add interest by creating a sense of mystery. It’s also a great idea to keep asking intriguing questions that you answer as you speak.
8. Let there be silence: Don’t keep talking without pausing. Give your audience time to take it in, or they will stop listening.
9. Tell stories: Personal stories help people relate to you. Your story reminds them of their own, and they feel connected to you. Company stories can also do that, especially when the obstacle is apparent. Everyone wants to know how to solve problems. We all have them!
10. ______________________There is a tenth way, but what is it? If you have a technique for adding interest, let us know what it is. Please comment below.
Final note: You have about twenty tricks in your bag of vocal color. How you think about your topic is key to keeping your audience’s interest. You will automatically create more interest if YOU are interested. Then you may find that you naturally sound more engaged. Play with these techniques and see what you can create. And let me know how it goes!
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- How to Create a Voice with Executive Presence
- From Information to Imagination: Delivering a Good Story
- The Case for Expressive Speaking, Even on Earnings Calls
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Connect with the author on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/k8peters
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