Wednesday, August 31, 2011

High-Impact Public Speaking; Using a Pregnant Pause for Accentuating a Word or Sentence

Watch the video clip below. Notice how the speaker, Sen. Mitch McConnell, after stating what action he wants his party members to undertake, makes a long, deliberate pause (i.e., a pregnant pause) to give emphasis to the word that is about to follow--“first.” Placing a pregnant pause just before the last word in a sentence is not an everyday occurrence, which is why I felt this clip to be worthy of being featured in my blog. Usually, speakers use a pregnant pause just before or after making an important statement (to let the words sink in), or between the asking of a rhetorical question and delivering the answer. What makes this particular illustration of a pregnant pause all the more remarkable is that its positioning in the sentence helps compensate for the speaker’s monotone, non-table pounding voice and bland facial expression. It enables him to sharply underline what according to him is the #1 priority for his party. An extraordinary bit of public speaking.

Important note: Please do not mistake this post to be an endorsement of Sen. McConnell or his agenda.
© Copyright 2011 V. J. Singal

Creating a Favorable Impression: A Dash of Color Will Go a Long Way, Says New Study

These may well be “ultra-modern” times, the age of millenarians, but people still seem to judge a book by its cover! In other words, when it comes to forming a first impression of a published work, society is as unsophisticated as, say, when books appeared for the first time.

Definitive proof that this atavistic impulse still reigns was provided by a piece aired on American Public Media’s “Marketplace” Monday before last (Aug. 22). According to a new study by the University of Miami’s business school, beautifying a company’s annual report by adding just one color can have the same impact on people’s perception of a company’s value as a 20% increase in revenue!

I believe the above has major implications for all manner of day-to-day activity, ranging from selecting attire--instead of a monochrome outfit, how about a dash of color--to selecting the cover for a report or proposal you are about to present to a client.

© Copyright 2011 V. J. Singal

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Speaking Concisely—Rather, How to Compel the Long-winded or the Verbose to Communicate Concisely

Once in a while, somebody who is often required to chair meetings will confide in me that one of his/ her biggest obstacles when trying to run a meeting efficiently (and thus stay within the allotted time) is having one or more participants who talk on and on—people who are so verbose or long-winded that, for instance, they will take several sentences to respond to a simple question that can easily be answered in a single, short sentence.

While there are several ways to rein in someone who has a proclivity to ramble or perorate at every opportunity, here is a simple technique to force a relatively quick response to a question: Look at your watch—as if to imply that you are running out of time--and simultaneously preface your question with something like, ‘Pat, in one sentence, what would you say is the main reason for.....?’” You could go a step further and, instead of “in one sentence…,” you could say, with a smile, “in half a sentence…”

Call me at 281-463-2500 or email me if you have successfully tried some other techniques to help engender concise communication in your workplace.

© Copyright 2011 V. J. Singal

Monday, August 29, 2011

Glaring Mispronunciations by Top Media Personalities

Two glaring cases of mispronunciation by leading lights in the media this month, one involving a relatively common word “harbinger.”

1. In his fascinating piece about New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan on “60 Minutes” Sunday before last, Morly Safer described the corpulent personage as “this burly, overweight, cherubic Irish American charges through life like a holy bulldozer…” It was the word cherubic where Safer slipped up, pronouncing it as [che-RUB-ik] instead of [chuh-ROOB-ik.] Apparently, he thought the pronunciation of cherubic is a direct extension of the word “cherub” which is pronounced [cher-ub.]

2. The second instance involved American Enterprise Institute’s Norm Ornstein—a guest on all manner of radio and TV channels because of his unmatched knowledge and understanding of what’s going on in Congress. About five minutes into the August 10 edition of “The Diane Rehm Show,” while using the word harbinger, he made the fairly common error of pronouncing it as [hahr-bin-ger] instead of [hahr-bin-jur]. This one left me stupefied, considering that because of his decades-long career and popularity, Ornstein has appeared on countless panels, often surrounded by America’s most articulate.

© Copyright 2011 V. J. Singal