onceuponatimeiattendedapresentationgivenbyareallysmartpersonwhospokesofast,butrathersoftlylikehewastryingtosayeverythinghehadtosayinonebreathsohecouldquicklycompletehispresentation, breath, andgospendtherestofhisallotedtimedrinkingcoffewiththosewhocametohearhimspeak.
During my instructor development classes, I teach a segment on the importance of using your voice. Trying to write a wimpy presenters fast pace, low volume and even monotone speech is more difficult than demonstrating it for a class. There are many reasons people use poor vocal skills while presenting such as lack of confidence in front of others, inexperience as a presenter and contempt for the topic. The opposite is also true. Speaking at a rapid pace in a loud volume continuously sounds like you are recording a commercial for the latest monster truck rally. Three cliches come to mind when considering the use of one’s voice during a presentation. The first is “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. The second, “Variety is the spice of life.” The final, “Silence is Golden.”
Slow is Smooth; Smooth is Fast
Speaking slower during a presentation allows you to select the best words to express your ideas the first time. Students understand what you say better. A slower pace allows students time to hear what you said and think about how it relates to them so they can effectively incorporate that information into their behavior. But what about the fast part? Great question! If your students understand what you said the first time, have time to reflect upon its meaning and ask necessary follow-up questions you only have to state the point once. No need to repeat what students all ready know. Fewer repetitions allow time discussing information unfamiliar to students. Result; better learning, and fewer remedial trainings.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Changing your pace, volume and tone of voice helps keep students attention. Turn up the volume to clue students of important information they may see again, say on a test. Use a fast pace to sound like the voice over announcer on TV reading the legal disclaimer for a predatory loan suggests important information has been provided and is available to reference later. A soft whisper tells students you are sharing a well guarded trade secret. Now they belong to an inner circle of trust. Certain patterns may suggest transition from one topic to the next. An effective phrase a friend uses is, “ALL righty, then…” his clue to the class the discussion is changing.
Silence is Golden
Silence seems the reverse of what a trainer should do while standing before a group of students. Periods of silence encourage participation. Ask a question and wait for someone to answer. Make a controversial statement and allow a student to challenge your position. Student participation always improves training.
Next time you find yourself in front of a class or giving a presentation remember and use these three rules. Silence is only bad because you do not know what to say next. Use it to encourage student interaction. Silence is golden. Using a slower pace allows information to sink in like a slow steady rain. Students absorb the information the first time allowing the class to progress faster. Slow is smooth; smooth is fast. Changing up pace, volume and tone signals students about important information, topic changes and help keep their attention. Variations in vocal qualities keep things interesting. Variety is the spice of life. During your next introduction, let the class know, YOOUU ARRRRRE REEEADDY TO RUUMMMBBBLLLLLLLEEEEE?!?!?!?!?!?!?
Both pictures from Flickr.com used under Creative Commons Attribution License