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Column #2:  Vocal variety, part 1
 

  Q:  I've been told that I ought to use more vocal variety, but this doesn’t come naturally to me.  What can I do?        

                                                          − W.L., Tierrasanta, CA

     Having good vocal variety and using it in the right places in your program can make all the difference between being big news and being a big snooze.

When I’m coaching, I encourage the use of what I call the Seven Variants of Vocal Variety™.  These are simple things that one can work on varying to make a moment in your program different from the one it follows.  Some might be incorporated into the same sentence while others might be a whole section done a certain way, especially if you’re creating a character to differentiate individual speakers in a story.

Here are the seven points, from simplest to those requiring more practice:
 

1)       Volume.  It may sound simple but some people don’t vary this factor.  I don’t want you screaming at your audience or making them strain to hear you, but boosting volume can point out passion for a word or phrase vs. lowering volume to convey softness and ease on a topic.

2)       Pitch.  Singing is not the only place that pitch is important and with speaking, you don’t even have to be “on pitch”.  You just have to vary it.  Whether you tend to have a high- or low-pitched voice, you are capable of going higher and lower than you typically do.  Try saying the following phrase all in the same pitch and then again saying the italicized words at a somewhat higher pitch:

“We don’t sell like that and I can’t imagine why we’d want to!”

See how that sentence sounds more lively that way?  I'd be you increased your volume a bit as well, which is fine…unless you’re reading this in a cubicle…

3)       Speed.  Some of us naturally speak faster than others and that’s okay, so long as you’re not losing the audience members who might not keep up. Yet too slow…and some attendees, especially younger ones, will lose interest. The key again? Variety.

        Let’s try saying this example all at one speed and then again picking up the pace of the italicized portion:

“The key to customer loyalty − and this is especially true with women − is to show you’re really listening.”

       If your pitch went up in the middle too, good for you! Why is this effective? Because the return to the slow-down for that last phrase now seems more significant.

There’s so much to say on vocal variety that I'll save the other four points for our next column.

 

Milo Shapiro, interactive motivational speaker and
speaking coach/trainer, is the author of
“Public Speaking: Get A’s, Not Zzzzzz’s!”  

More on Milo’s coaching & training
at www.PublicDynamics.com
and as a speaker/teambuilder at www.IMPROVentures.com

Click to see a free preview and/or buy a copy of
“Public Speaking: Get A’s, Not Zzzzzz’s!”

 

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A favorite coaching testimonial:

 

Testimonial from Dr. John Jenrette,
CEO, Sharp Community Medical Group

        "I’ve participated in many programs on speaking skills over the years, but this was my first time trying individual executive coaching on the topic − and what a difference!  Your working directly with me advanced my knowledge and abilities to a level that group lessons never could.

         "The one-on-one approach allowed you to focus solely in areas where I needed development as a CEO speaking to my organization.  Together, we determined areas in which growth would benefit me and you tailored exercises directly relevant to programs that I give, setting that growth in motion.

        "The most definitive moments of payoff were after you worked with me on specific upcoming programs.  Your ability to help me find more powerful words, streamline my ideas more effectively, build stories with strong imagery, and communicate the final speech in a dynamic style is making an impact on my audiences.  After my presentation this week, I had two doctors came up to me and tell me how much they enjoyed my presentation.  Doctors!  A tough bunch to impress! 

         "I had confided in a colleague that I'd hired a coach.  The day after the presentation, he approached me to say he’s seen a noticeable improvement in the quality of both my material and performance.  He also said he could see that audience’s attention was decidedly stronger than in the past. "

         (Please click to see the whole letter from Mr. Jenrette)

 


Here's an email from Dr. Jenrette six months later:

 

Milo,

I am getting great feedback at my most recent talks and lots of questions on how I did this.

Today I presented at the Sharp Leadership conference to tell people how I was a “Learning Leader".  I told the story of how I wanted to improve my presentation skills and how I hired a speaking coach with improv skills and demonstrated some of what I learned and gave a hugely successful presentation.

Mike Murphy, the CEO of Sharp HealthCare, told me there are going to be lots of people who want to find out who I worked with and there were lots of congratulations afterward.

Our Director of the Six Sigma team here at Sharp HealthCare texted me (during the meeting!) and he has been looking for a way to improve his team of black belts on presentation skills, facilitating their work groups, etc., but he had not found anything very innovative. He and I talked after the meeting and you'll be hearing from him soon!

Thanks again, Milo and I have a feeling there will be more interest coming from Sharp.   Happy to let you know that we're already working on bringing you in to give your keynote "Public Speaking: Get A's, Not Zzzzzz's!" for a larger group so we can gauge interest in more coaching around Sharp.  Hope you have time in December for that.

John E. Jenrette MD

John E. Jenrette MD

Chief Executive & Medical Officer

Sharp Community Medical Group

 

 

 
 

 

Coaching Praised by:

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(as seen
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Int'l Association of Admin. Professionals

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Also, coaching to other professional speakers like:

Vilis Ozols
Sarita Maybin
Liz Goodgold
Jennifer Sedlock
Kara Sadler
Colette Carlson
Barbara Sanfillippo
 

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