In my first High Impact Presentations program, my trainer had me perform an unusual exercise in front of the class. He asked me to read from a boring manuscript detailing facts about the planets in our solar system. He added, “Read it as you would read it to yourself, but read it aloud.”
I started reading the manuscript. When I occasionally looked up from the pages, I noticed that some people in my audience were distracted, most of them were disinterested and probably focused on preparing for their own presentation. No one was paying attention to what I was presenting. It wasn’t exactly engaging material.
Then the instructor said, “Now read the manuscript as a mother would read a bedtime story to her 5 year old child.”
Now, in order to comply with that request, I had to change my whole mental attitude and demeanor. But when I did and continued reading that same manuscript with the care and expressiveness of a young mother reading to her child, I noticed that my audience’s attitude had changed also. Some even sat up and started paying attention!
After reading like this for about 20 seconds, my instructor said, “Now read it like a fiery Baptist preacher.”
Again, I had to change my mindset to that of a bible-belt preacher addressing his congregation. And once again I noticed a clear shift in the attention and attitude of my audience. No one was mentally asleep any longer!
After two more shifts of a priest delivering a eulogy and a motivational football coach, my instructor finally said, “OK. Read the manuscript aloud as you would read it to yourself once again.”
This time while reading it aloud, I noticed that I had more energy, more vitality, and a lot more flexibility than when I originally read it. I also noticed a change in the audience’s attitude. They were all paying attention to me now.
In that brief session, I learned that in the space of 5 minutes I could alter the mood, demeanor, and attention of my audience merely by changing the intonation, pacing, and loudness of my voice.
This is something that we all have the potential to control. But we need that external mirror to help us see beyond our initial self perceptions.
If you use external coaching to help guide you in the early stages of your speaking development, you can harness this power to seize and hold your audience’s attention.
You’ll find 5 ideas on developing and using your voice to strengthen your presentations in the final session of Maximum Impact – Speaking With Power and Passion. If you routinely:
- Conduct phone interviews
- Manage conference calls
- Lead webinars
- Sell over the phone
- Sell face to face
- Manage small teams
- Speak at company events
then you’ll want to use these four sessions as a primer for new ideas and performance tips to augment your ability to influence your audience.
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Until next time, speak well!