One of the most common questions I get from my clients is:
How do I break the habit of speaking in monotone?
I can be presenting on the most interesting subject in the world, but when I start to speak in my boring voice, I see everyone’s eyes glaze over.
When I try to add more vocal variety, I feel weird and fake. HELP!
Do you relate to this?
Do you fear that your vocal style is that of Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?
Never fear! I’ve got a yuletide cure for monotone coming your way!
Let’s break this down for a second:
What is “monotone”?
Monotone describes a continuing sound, especially of a person's voice, that is unchanging in pitch and without intonation.
So, what’s the cure for monotone?
Adding variation in pitch and intonation!
See, wasn’t that easy?!
I kid, I kid!
See, here’s the problem:
We know the cure to monotone is adding variation to...
Buckle up for week 3 of our on-going blog series:
You ready for tip #3?!
Okay! Here it is:
“Don’t be nervous!”
Wouldn't that be an incredibly unhelpful tip?
Let's talk for a second about why “don’t be nervous” such an unhelpful piece of direction to give someone.
Because it’s inactive.
In general, humans aren’t great at processing negative direction.
For example: Don’t think of an alligator.
Similarly, a doctor trying to improve a patient’s diet will probably have greater success with the prompt “Eat more vegetables” than “Eat less junk food.”
A lovely side-effect of eating more vegetables is that people naturally eat less junk food, but it’s much easier to get them there with an active prompt.
Welcome back to our on-going blog series:
Let’s start out our 1st week of Speak Masterfully Speaking Tips with a brazenly simple suggestion:
If you know you struggle with speaking to a crowd of people, then don’t speak to a crowd of people.
Speak to one person.
Imagine you have a good friend sitting in the back row—someone nonjudgemental. The kind of friend you’d have no problem inviting over even if your place were a mess. Make this a private conversation between the two of you.
Allow your eyes to take in the whole room, but keep the intention of a private conversation. Focus in on the one or two people smiling and nodding.
Not only will speaking to one person calm your nerves, it will create a feeling of intimacy with the audience.
Apply this advice to the writing of your piece as well as the delivery. To quote James Joyce, ...