Friday, September 30, 2011

Public Speaking Tips: Strong, Evocative Words Are Often Wasted If Not Accompanied By Appropriate Nonverbals

When trying to influence an audience, the use of two or three fresh, strong, evocative, and out-of-the-ordinary words uttered back-to-back can be extremely effective (especially if the audience is familiar with the terms). Why? Because such an expression works like a one-two or a one-two-three punch. But much too often, public speakers fail to get the full mileage from their well chosen words because they are uttered blandly or very rapidly, unaccompanied by appropriate nonverbals. This is something I emphasize again and again while coaching executives, managers, and other professionals who have to make important presentations.

Take a look at the video clip below, featuring former Missouri Republican Party Chair Ann Wagner lambasting the then-party leader Michael Steele. Imagine how much more powerful, and searing, and impactful her remarks would have been had she uttered her carefully chosen words “steeped in mismanagement, distractions, and drama” (you can tell she is glancing at her notes as she utters them) with some pizzazz. For instance, a split-second pause after each of the three nouns (mismanagement, distractions, drama) would have allowed those words to sink in fully. And the injection of vocal variety as well as some facial and/or hand gestures would have endowed her words with much additional weight. Summing up, she could have easily accentuated that key sentence immeasurably.

An excellent example of a well crafted and potentially indelible expression coming to naught thanks to too rapid-fire an utterance. © Copyright 2011 V. J. Singal

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