During 1999, I was a member of a Toastmasters group in Saratoga, CA. We met every Saturday morning at 9:00 AM for 2 hours. If you’ve never been to a toastmasters meeting, you need to put that on your “bucket list”. It can be an entertaining experience and they don’t require guests to speak at the first meeting, unless you want to, of course.
At this particular meeting, I was responsible for listening to every speaker’s grammar and track any “creative uses” of the English language. Keeping your ears opened and listening for these instances can be a daunting task, especially when you have a room of over 25 people.
During the “free-for-all” impromptu speaking portion of the meeting, Johnny T. was given a question to respond to. Johnny T., being a very animated and passionate speaker, stood up, walked to the lectern and started to tear the floor up!
About 20 seconds into his presentation, I noticed that his statements weren’t making a whole lot of sense. So I stopped listening for creative grammar uses and began to focus on the content. After 15 more seconds, I was pretty sure that what he was saying wasn’t making any sense at all.
I also noticed something else. Looking around the room, I saw that every person in the room was mesmerized! They were really into his message, which was rather silly since he didn’t really have a message. But they were spellbound none-the-less.
Johnny T. finished up just a little over 60 seconds and when he did, everyone stood up and gave him a standing ovation. They were cheering and clapping wildly.
As we were settling down for the next speaker, I leaned over and asked the girl next to me, “what exactly did Johnny T. say?”
She paused, thought for a minute, and said, “I have absolutely no idea. But it sure sounded good!”
Sometimes we are caught up in what to say when we are crafting our presentation and knowing what to say is important.
But knowing how to say it can have a greater impact on our audience, and many of us give little thought to that aspect of our message.
When you get up to deliver your message, here are 4 essential elements you need to consider:
- How You Look. Does your dress and grooming reflect the message that you want to deliver? Does it reflect the styles and tastes of your audience?
- What You Do. Your poise and stance. The body language that you use. Does it send the message that you are in control? Does it relay your confidence and knowledge or does it betray your nervousness and lack of preparation?
- What You Say. The actual message that you want to deliver.
- How You Say It. The tone, quality and pacing of your voice. Does the speed match the message and the audience? Are the pitch, timbre and cadence in line with what you want to say? Does your vocal volume and intensity reflect the tone of the message?
An analogy we can use in this instance is to equate our message to medicine inside a syringe and needle. The message is the equivalent of the medicine. It has the power to heal or to hurt, depending on the purpose. However, the treatment is pretty useless without an effective delivery method, regardless of its potency. A dull needle or spraying it along the face and hoping that our subject inhales some of it are not effective delivery methods. A syringe with a sharp needle, however, will allow us to inject the medicine right into the bloodstream with little or no pain at all.
Your message delivery has to be the same as that finely sharpened needle and syringe if you hope to make the necessary impact with yur message. If it’s off or doesn’t match the audience, your message won’t have the impact that you desire.
But if all three elements are in alignment and as sharp as they can be, then you can be like Johnny T., deliver any message that you want and get a standing ovation for your efforts.