Category Archives: Articles

Speak Up – Make Your Voice Sizzle!

(We spent all last year answering the question, ‘Does Your Presentation Suck?’ Each month provided details on a specific aspect of your presentations content to help you decide how much it sucked and what to do about it.)

Reader reaction was quite positive and appreciative. We heard from people who routinely deliver presentations at work, support in-house training, speak at professional group meetings or help pitch business.

This year, we’ll discuss simple and effective strategies to help make your vocal and physical delivery Sizzle! To launch this series, let’s focus on harnessing the power of your Voice.  

The easiest way to make your voice sizzle is simply to speak louder. Really. That’s all it takes to become a more engaging presenter. Speaking up can significantly impact your audience’s attention, interest in your message … and positive impression of you, the messenger.

Loud is Good

In our culture, we tend to interpret a soft-spoken voice as coming from a person lacking confidence or credibility. Not good reactions for your audience to have about you. Even on a microphone, the soft-spoken voice delivers that weak impression loud and clear. It doesn’t matter if these reactions are valid – remember that Perception is Reality. If you sound weak to the audience – you are.

We’re conditioned from birth to be quiet. How many bazillion times did someone tell you to be quiet, keep it down or use your ‘inside voice’. As adults, this conditioning creates an automatic volume control monitor in your head. When you exceed that level, the little red light goes on and tells you to get quieter.

The problem for presenters is that monitor is preset for one-on-one volume level. Even in a small meeting room, you’re much farther away from the closest listener than in normal conversation. So, overcome your programming, ignore the little red light and speak up.

 Volume Has Impact!

Increasing your volume has positive effects on your audience:

  • You’re easier to hear, especially over room noise, side conversations, outside distractions and the hum of the projector. The easier it is to hear you, the easier it is to listen to what you say.
  • As your volume increases, so does your inflection or change in pitch. You don’t have any inflection when you whisper. When you speak up, you naturally add more vocal color and emphasis to your message delivery. That emphasis makes it easier for the audience to understand important points. And you’ll avoid speaking in a monotone – a major audience turn-off.
  • Since audiences equate volume and vocal energy with credibility, speaking up is especially important for speakers who are smaller in stature, younger or female. So, harness the power of the ‘Mom Voice’ or ‘Soccer Coach Voice’ so your audience is confident in your message.
  • Increasing volume also channels that nervous energy your body is generating more productively. You burn off those extra calories with vocal energy instead of nervous physical mannerisms. By breathing deeper, the extra oxygen helps relax you. Your audience sees and hears a more confident and credible speaker – they like that.

So, when you’re practicing your presentations out loud, consciously increase your volume. See for yourself that it will increase your vocal energy and natural inflection when you Speak Up.

(As always, if you have questions or need input on specific presentation issues, do continue to call or email and I’ll respond accordingly.)

Make Meetings Work

Ask any group of entrepreneurs what they think about meetings at work. You’ll probably hear comments like “ … too long … unorganized … #$%&*(@# waste of time … always start late … no action … I hate meetings.” Read More »

What if Your Business IS the Best Choice?

Late last year, we discussed some strategies to consider when you realize you’re not the right choice for a product or service your prospect needs. It earned lots of positive comments and some people even indicated that they had never even thought about some of the strategies mentioned. 

So, this topic should be obvious – What if Your Business IS the right choice?’ Some of the brief 10 steps will be obvious, too, … but, some won’t. So read and heed. Read More »

From Suck … to Sizzle

Back in January, I began a year-long series discussing the broad question, ‘Does your presentation suck’. Rather than make a statement like ‘Your presentations suck’, I opted to ask lots of diagnostic question instead so you could decide for yourself if your presentations suck and, if so, how much.  Read More »

WordPower – Your Laughable Redundancies

We’ve gotten into some sloppy habits regarding redundancy. While this tendency may not be a major problem in verbal or written communication, it does waste words and the result is often amusing. Unless you’re a comedian, you probably don’t want people chuckling about what you say or write. So, here are some reminders: Read More »

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Why I Hate 3 x 5 Note Cards

Very high on my list of Workplace Presenter ‘Worst Practices’ is using the simple, seemingly innocent little 3 x 5 note cards for speaker notes. They’re way too small to be of much value. Good idea for high school debaters or for storing recipes maybe, but not for workplace presenter notes. And, if you do use a large-enough type that’s easy to read quickly, you’ll need a lot of the cards and will spend way too much time changing them … or picking them up when you drop them. Read More »

Network with Uncommon Courtesy

A reader recently asked for some simple tips to network with more courtesy and to avoid coming off like a ‘slug’ at networking events. My comments.
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Slay the Impromptu Dragon!

Has this ever happened to you? Emma arrived at work early, got a cup of coffee and settled into tackling her highest priority task of the day. When, out of nowhere, her boss Bob approached her cubicle and asked the question that strikes fear in the hearts most employees, ‘Hi Emma … you busy?’
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You’re Not Listening!

(Looks like it’s time for my annual rant about poor listening skills in the workplace.)

As workplace communicators, we obviously spend a lot of time each day communicating verbally. Therefore, we spend a lot of time listening … or should. Problem is, we don’t listen very well. Especially those of us Type A Driver Entrepreneurs. Sound familiar? We regularly fall victim to one or more of these seven Barriers to Listening: Read More »