As a professional voice coach and broadcaster, I teach many people, and one of the first questions people often ask me is, “Can my voice really be changed?”
Well, they say that one should never answer a question with a question, but I tend to break the rules. So, the next thing I ask them is, “Can you sing?” Most people say they can’t. My reply to them is that everyone can sing, but not everyone can hit the right note.
In presentation skills, the good news is that we don’t need to really hit any note when we speak, but we need to add musicality into our voice and the way we speak, so that we’re able to capture the thoughts, feelings and emotions of our audience. When we speak, we would obviously want people to listen to us. To do that, we need to keep our listeners engaged. Through this blog, we share some simple tips that can help anyone create intentional presentations!
- Consider Your Audience
People hear words differently. So before you speak, know your audience. Many people ignore this fact and say the same words in the same way to different audiences. So even if you’re using the same words, you may need to say them differently when you speak to a particular audience.
In fact, at the risk of sounding ‘sexist’, men and women hear the same words differently. I’m generalizing here, but men usually like speakers to get to the point and to just hear the facts. I guess we’re an impatient bunch. Ladies on the other hand, prefer that speakers paint out a scenario before delivering the information. It’s pretty much the same scenario when men and women go shopping isn’t it?
My advice is that in order to achieve the maximum impact when we speak, we need to understand who the decision makers are and skew the information delivered accordingly.
- Content Compartmentalization
One of the key concepts that I teach in every presentation skills class is that all human beings, no matter how brilliant they are, have a limited capacity to absorb information.
In fact, as Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw put it, “The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.
We often say something and think that our listeners understood our message.
So, how do we overcome this obstacle to communication? Well, the simple answer is to break down information into bite sizes. If you don’t, whatever you say will become words instead of messages and words, on their own, will carry no meaning. When it comes to presentation skills, the main difference between words and messages is that messages have a meaning or an intent behind it. People can’t absorb a large chunk of content all at once. They need to hear it in bite-sized pieces for it to take root and for words to make sense. So, take your content and separate them into key ideas before delivering them.
- Low and Slow
As I’ve mentioned in the introduction, everyone can sing, some of us can hit particular notes while some of us just can’t. The good news is that in presentation skills, we don’t have to hit any particular note or tempo. However, in general, if you want people to take you seriously and to sound more confident, lower the general tone of your voice and speak with a slower pace. Why? If you speak fast and in a voice that is high pitched, you come across as a crazy person who’s very emotional. Emotional people don’t sound credible and it’ll be difficult to secure a deal or a promotion. A lower pitch and a slower pace gives you authority, gives you power and makes you sound credible.
These are just three simple ideas that will help anyone become better communicators. Of course there is a whole barrage of skills and knowledge as well as considerations that one needs to take into account when we communicate with anyone. At the end of the day, what’s required is to have a voice to succeed, a voice to motivate and a voice to influence. Be The Voice!
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