“The processional went on forever! It was like one of those never-ending trains that stops you at an intersection when you’re running late. And THEN came the speeches! All monotone!” Commentary from a recent client.
It’s commencement season.
First you sit through mind-numbing monotonal speeches from the school’s president, founder and valedictorian.
Then you sit for several hours watching 300+ graduates walking across the stage.
You can’t avoid the processional and diploma dispersal (that’s why you’re there!) but you can at least enjoy the speeches… IF they’re well done.
Let’s focus on one aspect: having vocal energy vs being monotonal.
Are you an offender? Is your voice dynamic or boring?
7 ways to improve your vocal energy
Read a book to a child. During the dialog become the wolf. Really ham it up. Vary your pitch, rate and volume. Read and repeat.
Aim for the back row, unless you’re using a mic. Weak projection detracts.
Have good posture – promotes better breath and vocal volume.
Don’t use antihistamines before a speech. Can create a dry mouth.
Drink room temp (not hot or cold) water – hydrates your vocal cords.
Karen emcees a National Speakers Association – North TX Chapter event
You are asked to emcee your corporate annual event. OR – you’re tapped to “run” the business holiday dinner. OR – you are chairing a Board of Directors retreat.
Here are 7 tips to emcee, “run”, or chair an event/retreat/holiday dinner/meeting/convention.
1. START STRONG & ON TIME
Begin by having someone introduce you. Not a long intro. It could even be the “Voice of God” – an omniscient voice that booms, “Here’s Karen Cortell Reisman, your emcee for our ‘Annual Grow Your Business Expo’!”. You should NOT have to get up on stage and say, “Shush….” or “Can I have your attention now?”
Begin when you say you will begin.
Introduce yourself. You might be well known in this room. However, you might have guests, significant others, new members of the team who do not have a clue as to why you’re at the lectern. Tell your audience who you are and what your connection is with this event.
2. ACKNOWLEDGE OTHERS
You are one spoke of the wheel. Thank the meeting organizers – the unsung heroes, the production crew (if there is one), and your audience – without them you would not have this great opportunity.
3. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE & EVENT BACKGROUND
Stealth bomb of all types of communication – NOT knowing your audience. It’s no different when emceeing an event. Do your homework and find out the pulse of your event and what the meeting organizers want as an outcome.
4. HAVE A SCRIPT
Scripts make you a bit stilted, but having a script in this role is OK.
Can you skip the script? Yes – IF you have speaking experience, and the group’s culture leans to informal. Otherwise, the script will be your best friend.
Do you read verbatim from this script? NO. Practice and make it conversational. It’s a crutch, not your life jacket. You may also use a teleprompter.
5. SHARE THE AGENDA
No matter how much the group likes you, your audience wants to know how long they have to sit there, when the breaks are, and what the expectations are for all.
5 1/2: CREATE A “RUN OF SHOW”
This is a behind-the-scenes minute by minute layout of the entire event that you create in tandem with your meeting organizers.
6. MAKE YOUR AUDIENCE FEEL SPECIAL
Don’t say, “I’m nervous. But this is just a routine meeting so we’ll just start with our clip from our CEO.”
AAGH! First – don’t share your nervousness status. We don’t care and if we do care, then we are now distracted by your emotional state. Second – “routine meeting” – NO! You want your audience to feel like this is an ecstatic use of their time. Do say, “Today you are in for a treat. We have a cutting edge program starting with a special and customized video from CEO Jordan Brooks.”
7. END ON TIME
While hard to control, your credibility and the event’s credibility are enhanced when the timing flows well. The other evening I was at an awards dinner (yawn, long winded, I’m already tired… you know the drill). The emcee said we’d be done at 8pm. My “shoulder skeptic” inner voice thought, “These events never end that early or on time.” It did! I was impressed.
The last impression becomes the lasting impression.
While not on your Emcee To Do List, you can suggest to the meeting organizer to have a stellar valet service, if attendees are transporting themselves to and from the hotel/convention venue. Once over, it’s over and people want to move on.
Source: Andy Saks, President of Spark Presentations – sparkpresentations.com
Whether you’re pumped or dreading your presentation, you, the speaker, must answer these 3 questions in order to engage your audience.
🎯 Question #1 to create buy-in ➜
Do you know what you’re talking about?
You answer, “Of course!” But, does your audience know that you know?
Tip: Share your credibility through stories. We call this “credibility sprinkles”.
Ex: “When I spoke to 900 home inspectors in California at their annual association meeting I asked them what ‘BS’ stood for and they shouted out ‘better service!’”
🎯 Question #2 to maintain buy-in ➜
Do you care about what you’re talking about?
You do not need to be a raging extrovert. In fact, introverts make great speakers.
Tip: You show your passion for your subject through your nonverbal actions.
Do: Smile, have good posture, exhibit effective eye contact.
🎯 Question #3 to go beyond buy-in ➜
Do you really know who you’re talking to?
Tip: Gather your intel.
Find out: Where is their pain? What makes them tick? What are they good at? Who competes with them? Where can they improve? What defines success for them? How knowledgeable are they about your topic? Experience range?
🎯 Your audiences are distracted, tired or deadline driven. AKA: Overwhelmed. Do them a favor. Nail these answers in order to share your value.
And you don’t even have to do a squat, burpee or a jumping jack.
“A study in Cell Reports Medicine showed that just five minutes of breathwork each day for about a month could improve mood and reduce anxiety,” reports Richard Sima in The Washington Post.
This report further claims that breathwork benefits may be larger than mindfulness meditation using the same amount of time.
A Huge Assist for Speaker Anxiety
One of the most significant issues facing our Speak For Yourself® clients is getting over stage fright. The outcome of this study, helpful in any nerve wracking situation, can apply when you’re giving a speech, on a panel, recording a video …
Participants: 108 adults, randomly controlled. They did this breathwork at home following video directions.
Activity: Researches compared 3 different 5-minute breathwork exercises. Some were deliberate guided breathing in various ways. Some did mindfulness meditation where participants observed their breathing but did not try to control it.
Results: “After 28 days, participants in both the mindfulness meditation and breathwork groups reported having more positive feelings and fewer negative ones compared with before they began their respective practices.” Both groups reported reduced feelings of anxiety. (WAPO)
“That’s not bad for five min/day,” said David Spiegel, an author of the study. “It seems that practicing some control over your respiration is a kind of entry into one way of controlling your autonomic activity.”
The Accumulation Effect: These positive effects did take time to kick in. The more the participants spent doing this breathwork, the better they felt each successive day.
The ROI for you
When you get anxious you breathe faster. By doing this breathwork you can control and relax your physical state and slow down your breathing.
Can you take a few minutes to control your breathing, connect with your body and encourage it to deal with what you want to deal with… like your upcoming presentation?
Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds. Increase the number of seconds and repeat and repeat.
Are you busy “doing” vs “being”? (OK – rather zen-ish but think about it.)
Photo: by Karen Cortell Reisman @ Barcelona Park Guell