When you have a great idea, can you get others to pay attention? Here's how to make what you say sound important.
If a poor speaker lets an important idea fall, does it make a sound?
I hope you're not in that category! Too many presenters, though, display a weak vocal presence that undermines what they're saying. It's not that the ideas don't matter, you see. It's just that listeners don't grasp their importance—or worse, don't hear them at all.
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Let's look at why this problem arises, and how to solve it.
How to Get Your Ideas Across More Effectively
The problem of strong ideas expressed weakly often comes down to a single cause: lack of energy in vocal delivery. Most of the time, that's caused by poor breath support for what the speaker is saying. Here's why that happens:
Your speech results from an exhaled column of air that is "modulated" by the vocal folds. When these membranes vibrate, they create a pulse of air, which is amplified by resonators in your body. It's the air, then (from your exhalation) that allows the voice to be carried outward to be heard by others.
It only makes sense that you need enough air to "support" the vocal sound all the way through to the end of the idea you're expressing. Now, in spoken English, the most important word or phrase usually comes at the end, not the beginning or middle.
If your voice trails off because you simply don't have enough air, the audience will either a) not hear the important words expressed strongly enough, or b) not hear them at all. In either case, lack of energy robs listeners of something they need to possess. And that will put a serious crimp in your knowing how to speak for leadership.
To Sound Important Yourself — That's the Question!
The solution is obvious: to make what you say sound important, you need to punch the key words in your ideas to make them come to life. Consider: though you know which words those are, your audience won't until you clue them in.
So tape yourself and listen to whether you trail off at the ends of sentences (it's a common habit), or keep the idea going with enough vocal support until the end. If you do the latter, listeners will hear and understand what you're saying. That, of course, is what your vocal delivery is trying to make happen in the first place.
Remember, Hamlet said:
To be or not to be, that is the QUESTION.
If he'd said instead:
The question is whether to be or not.
You'd probably be asking now: "What's a Hamlet?"
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Gary Genard is an actor, author, and expert in public speaking training and overcoming speaking fear. His company, Boston-based The Genard Method offers live 1:1 Zoom coaching for executives worldwide. In 2020 for the seventh consecutive year, Gary has been ranked by Global Gurus as One of The World's Top 30 Communication Professionals. He is the author of How to Give a Speech. His second book, Fearless Speaking, was recently named as "One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time." Contact Gary here.