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What to do when you present in a boring, repetitive monotone – follow TED speaker Robert’s example

This is a TED Talk by Robert Ballard, deep-sea explorer.

If you can, watch it without listening to the words, just to the pitch of his voice, especially about half way through the talk, at about 7.30.

The majority of his speech is incredibly monotonous.

He gives the impression that he is ashamed of what he is saying, that his audience will find it boring and that it needs to be hurried, get it out of the way as soon as it can be done.

There were times when I thought I would stop watching.

It was that bad!

I didn’t stop watching.


Because …

he compensated with some fabulous, very successful strategies that had his audience engaged despite the monotony.

What were these strategies and can we use them ourselves?

There were six that I noted, and all of them are powerful – they needed to be!!

1. The message is simple and strong

He has a very simple, well articulated message. Why are we spending so much time and money on space exploration and so little on exploring our oceans? It is repeated. The whole presentation supports it. And the fact that it is regularly stated as a question keeps it hooked into his audience’s minds and hearts.

2. He uses the unexpected

Several of his statements stand out for me but there are others. The first that aroused my attention was the one about how everything he learned at school in his field was wrong. The second was about the map. Normally when we see a blank space on a map we assume it is just an area of similar topography. A space like that on a map of the sea is blank because it is not mapped. Life under the sea exists in ways no life should. Water is upside down. Volcanoes work in ways volcanoes shouldn’t. He sets his audience up and hits them regularly with the unexpected and each point made that way hits strongly.

3. He uses images.

There are 57 image slides in this presentation with no words. There is no conflict in his audience’s minds between spoken and written words. The images reinforce what he is saying and his audience is more likely to remember a point made and supported by an image than one that is only made verbally. I can still see in my mind’s eye the little girl with her mouth open in amazement.

4. Humour

He’s not exactly a humorous speaker, nor a comedian, but he uses subtle humour, and again often the unexpected. There is self effacing humour, and his use of the name Easter Bunny, the statement “I would not let an adult drive a robot. He doesn’t have the gaming experience.” just three examples. And the audience laughs. But they laugh and they are acknowledging the humour but they are also being drawn to the point he is making at the time. The humour simply highlights it.

5. Clever use of Pause

Robert uses pause to highlight a particular point and his uses it powerfully, interspersing it between questions and single words.

He also uses pause as an antidote to a long session of fast-paced narrative. And that is powerful too.

6. Repetition

He repeated the main message. He repeated his main points. He repeated his humorous “Easter Bunny” statement. And it wasn’t saying the same thing over again. It was calling back to it, later in the speech. It’s a powerful technique, puts the segment just completed, monotonous though it may be, into perspective and creates support for the point he is making, or the idea he has introduced.

7. Passion

This man believes in what he is doing.

He is excited by it.

He is passionate about the possibilities it offers and about creating excitement in his audience and in the world, about his project.

And it shows, when he allows it, in his use of pause, in his enthusiasm, and in his energy.

These are not rhetorical devices he just inserted into his speech. They are the result of his enthusiasm and dedication and excitement.

He left the best for last when he talked about being able to ignite that same enthusiasm and excitement in middle-schoolers, when he talked about “creating the classroom of the future” and how you “win or lose a scientist by 8th grade”.

This is what we want.  This is a young lady not watching a football game, not watching a basketball game.  She's watching exploration thousands of miles away and it's just dawning on her what she is seeing.  And when you get a jaw dropping, you can inform, you can put so much information into that mind ...

This is what we want. This is a young lady not watching a football game, not watching a basketball game. She’s watching exploration thousands of miles away and it’s just dawning on her what she is seeing. And when you get a jaw dropping, you can inform, you can put so much information into that mind …

And he had a standing ovation.

Monotonous, maybe, boring no!


[Quick public speaking tip] Are you being heard?

If your audience cannot hear you, you have lost them.

If there is no microphone, and even if there is, it is your responsibility, in the end, to make sure people can hear you.

1. Project your voice – right to that back row.

2. Articulate well. Practice overdoing it sometimes – hilarious, I know, but a great way to remind you voice muscles that they are expected to work for you and to say words properly without slurring, mumbling, muttering or leaving off the ends of words. In today’s fast-paced world we sometimes develop lazy habits.

3. Take the time to pronounce each word properly. Research every word you use so you don’t get caught. You may be heard, but it’s going to be distracting if you mispronounce something, or stumble over it.

4. Using abbreviations or acronyms? Unless they are in common usage, they might as well have been whispered if someone in your audience has not idea what you mean.

5. You will have made the effort to visit the venue if at all possible before you present. While you are checking it over for all possibilities, remember to check the accoustics, and the microphone.

6. Have someone you can call on to deal with unforeseen issues like a noisy air conditioner, a noisy audience member or a noisy microphone. If there is no someone, have a disaster management plan in place.

7. Don’t forget to make your audience very aware that you have their interests at heart, that you are meeting their needs, and that you are all in this together, or they will stop listening anyway.

And, in the end, there is always that old tried and true phrase “lend me your ears” – well — maybe!

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Tip for tired voices – Grab a straw

Ingo Titze demonstrates an easy technique that uses a simple straw for hard-working voices. Variations of the straw technique has roots in Northern Europe and has been used for several hundred years. Professor Titze has studied this specific technique scientifically resulting in several scientific peer reviewed publications.

It works!!

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Don’t want to bore your audience? Use your voice!

You can avoid boring your audience by varying the pitch and the volume and pace of your words. Use pause for drama. Speak quickly to communicate your energy and enthusiasm, and then use a slower rate for emphasis. You can also deliberately vary the structure of your sentences. A single word can have huge impact used on its own, particularly if it comes after a wordier segment. All of these are keeping your audience hooked.


Five Keys to Using the Power of Your Voice for Public Speaking Success

Your voice is a powerful tool in creating the success of your speeches and presentations. Just on its own, it can make or break your public speaking. Use these five tips to learn how to harness the power of your voice.

Firstly, let’s not lose the audience. If they cannot hear you, you have lost them. Project you voice. Articulate well; so that they know exactly what you are saying. Pronounce each word so that they understand it. Explain abbreviations and acronyms.

Using a microphone is a huge subject and I won’t go into details here. A few points… Practise beforehand if you can. Discover the way to adjust the height of the microphone. Check if the microphone picks up sound from all around or just from straight on. Give it some “p’s” and “s’s” to see if it pops or hisses. Please do not tap it or blow into it. Some microphones are delicate and damaged by tapping or moisture. If you cannot practise, before you begin, adjust the microphone to your height and speak directly into it then be prepared to forget it. It will be obvious if people cannot hear you. Take the time, then, to adjust it again, and test loudness and direction. If you cannot fix it, leave it and project!

If the audience is bored, you will lose them. Inject variety in your voice. Use pause to keep their attention. Add strong eye contact to the pause – interact with your audience when you use it. Ask a rhetorical question, make a challenging statement and then look at them – tilt your head, smile and you have added power to your impact.

The pauses must be deliberate, however. Learn to be as fluent as possible. If you need to spend time thinking, say so. The audience is happy if you are happy, confident and composed. Please don’t fill the space with fillers, like “um”.

Take the time to monitor your speech for these fillers. Join a club (for example, ITC) and have your speech monitored for you, so you are made aware of using these fillers. Or have a friend or family member do the monitoring.

Make sure you vary the volume of your presentation as well as the pitch and pace. It is possible to speak softly and project. Like the “power pause”, this is another way of adding power to your impact. Volume has its place, but if you have ever dealt with an icy stare combined with quiet anger then you will know the power of quiet control in comparison to emotional loudness. So use a quiet voice for power, but use it sparingly.

So there you have it – 5 powerful ways to make your voice work for you when you present those speeches. Go out there, try them and see the change in your results!

Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years’ experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. In just 6 months time, you could be well on your way to being admired and rehired as a speaker? Go to http://www.30speakingtips.com to get the 30 speaking tips FREE.

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Public Speaking Tips: Voice Inflection

Add personality to a public speech by emphasizing vocal inflections.

Avoid speaking in a monotone voice with tips from a communications specialist in this video.


How to Say More Than Words

The study of vocalics or paralanguage deals with the non-verbal qualities of speech. These qualities include pitch, amplitude, rate, and voice quality. Linguists argue that the way in which a person says something often means more than the actual words being spoken. Paralanguage instantaneously conveys information such as gender, education, origin, mood, and our relationship with the person being spoken to.

Read more => http://bit.ly/xlox9p


The Most Important Not-so-secret Secret to Successful Communication

OK. It’s not a secret. But there is a mystery to it, and today I have an answer.

Vince Lombardi is credited with saying, “The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price. “ Lombardi is also credited with saying, “You play like you practice.” In the world of music, we are also told to practice. To quote composer Igor Stravinsky (in a post on the blog Six Minutes, called “Eight Faulty Speaker Assumptions”) , “Practice. If you don’t, someone else will.” So why is it, therefore, that so many business presenters and speakers don’t practice before important communications? Is it fear? Lack of time? Laziness?

=> http://bit.ly/mFPFrM

You Do Not Need to Speak for a Living for Voice Training to Be Part of Your Ongoing Development

Whether it is for personal reasons or professional, improving the sound of your speaking voice is something people are becoming aware of because they realize it is part of the image they project. What does your voice (the one you hear on your answering machine) say about you?

In today’s questionable economy, jobs are at a premium. Having the education and experience are not always enough to guarantee you the job or even the promotion. Because your competition is tough, it is up to you to have the best presentation skills possible. The people who are succeeding are those who speak effectively: they exude confidence.

Imagine that you are being considered for a position along with two other individuals. If your education and experience are equal to those of your competition, the decision will rest on the one who is best at expressing himself or herself. Can you say that the sound of your speaking voice and your delivery skills are an asset? If you are unsure, record yourself, preferably by means of video.

For the above suggestion, use your camcorder in a mock interview session with a friend or family member and then study the playback. The knowledge you will gain from the recording is invaluable and will show you how you look and present yourself to others. This is why I am such a fan of the video-recorder. It is an excellent tool.

Listen to the sound of your voice, the tone, and the emotion displayed in speaking. While you will be nervous for the interview, you don’t want the person responsible for your future seeing or hearing it. When you watch the recording, look for ‘tics’ such as playing with your hair, using a lot of ums or ahs, or fidgeting with our hands.

What is your voice saying about you? Is it wimpy or too soft? If so, a potential employer will tire of having to strain to hear you. If you are too loud, on the other hand, that employer may find you aggressive. How about too nasal? Maybe you speak too fast or too slowly. Is your voice expressive or does it sound boring? Are you over 21 and sound like a 12-year-old? Perhaps you speak with a heavy accent and are difficult to understand.

These are all things you should consider when you analyze the playback because that is what a perspective employer will be hearing.

Don’t allow your lack of presentation skills ruin your chances for that coveted job or promotion. Consider improving your voice as an investment in your life, both professionally and personally.

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels provides private, group and corporate training throughout the United States and Canada as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement and presentation skills.

Tips on Public Speaking – Using Your Voice to Wow Your Audience!

 How you deliver your speech is even more important than the content of your speech. The way you use your voice during a presentation will either grab and keep your audience’s attention or put them to sleep.

It is estimated that when a voice-trained person delivers a speech, the audience retains 83 per cent of the information. In contrast, when an untrained person delivers the same speech the audience will only retain 45 per cent of the information.

An interesting voice will have a varied pitch and variations in pace and volume. A speech which is delivered in a monotonous voice is very dull indeed for the audience.

There are various characteristics that alter a person’s speech, such as clarity, volume, pitch, tone and speed of delivery. Let’s look at those characteristics now. => http://bit.ly/gjseYw