Want to stand out as a public speaker? Make your message come to life with this amazing speaking technique.
Are you the leading actor on the "stage" (or in the virtual space) when you give a presentation?
You need to be! You can bet, then, that an actor's tools will help you give the type of performance you're hoping for.
Today, I'd like to talk about an amazing speaking technique that will delight an audience while making your message come vividly to life. It involves inventing a phrase as you say it. Impossible? Read on.
Speaking of tools that will bring your speeches to life, what about your voice? Discover how to move audiences! Get my Free cheat sheet, "The 5 Key Tools of Vocal Dynamics."
If You Love Audiences, Learn to Love Language
As I tell my speech coaching clients, there's a dependable way to raise a presentation from good-to-excellent, up to the level of memorable. And any of us can do it. It means using the beauty and power of our language.
The words we use when we speak can be serviceable or dynamic. Mark Twain said this about it: "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." What he is getting at, in part, is annotation vs. connotation. To annotate means to explain; while to connote means suggesting associations. Additional, richer resonances will arise from what your word suggests.
On the other hand, do you know what not to say in a talk? Don't weaken your influence! Get my Free White Paper, "25 Words Phrases to Avoid in Speeches and Presentations."
Consider, for instance: "female parent" is informative enough; but "mother" suggests deeper and more pleasant associations. Will your new product "stand out" in the marketplace, or will it revolutionize the industry? For that matter, do you want to improve as a public speaker . . . or would you like to become exceptional? Falling in love with language is the necessary first step to using the technique I discuss below.
The Magic of Inventing a Phrase As You Say It
There's another writer worth knowing if you want to access the power of language, a fellow by the name of Shakespeare. Though we may shy away from his plays because we think their language is archaic, the reality is entirely different. In the hands of skilled actors and directors, hearing Shakespeare's language (rather than just reading it), gives the ideas and emotions life.
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That's exactly what I'm advocating you do in your speeches, presentations, pitches, and all the rest: make what you're saying come to life. The theater director John Barton gives a recipe for doing so in his book, Playing Shakespeare:
You've got to find the words or coin them or fresh-mint them (Barton's emphasis). The idea [is] inventing a phrase at the very moment it is uttered. . . . Words in Shakespeare have to be searched and savoured.
Verbal relish he calls this . . . and can't you just taste what he means? He says that to do so is contagious. I think what he means is emotional contagion—a cornerstone of effective public speaking. In other words, if you discover the associations of the word or phrase you're using and its emotional power to reach audiences, they will respond positively to the effort.
Don't forget that your voice is one of your most powerful tools to connect with listeners emotionally! Learn more in my Free cheat sheet, "The 5 Key Tools of Vocal Dynamics."
Giving Your Voice (and Content) Life
So, how do you practice this magical art? I suggest you invest yourself as fully as you can in what you're trying to say. Hear, with new ears, the words you're using. Especially do this with terms your team or company uses all the time, which have probably become stale. Consciously try to let listeners hear the meaning in your voice. If you do this, the word or phrase you're using will indeed sound newly minted!
After all, your job is never to convey information. It's always about making your material come to life.
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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 executive coaching and corporate group training 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 the Amazon Best-Seller How to Give a Speech. His second book, Fearless Speaking, was named in 2019 as "One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time." His latest book is The Online Meetings Handbook, now available at The Genard Method and at Amazon. To know more about TGM's services, Contact Gary here.