One Essential Solution to Flat Voice in Presentations and Pitches
I call a flat voice, flat lining, in fact that’s what a number of people come to me and say, they are flat lining when they do presentations, pitches and especially on camera. I agree, camera is the easiest place to fall flat. But, no matter where you are falling flat, it’s a problem and the solution to the problem might not be found at all where you think.
Flat lining is being disconnected from your message and yourself. I think it’s interesting that when a person has a heart attack, they flat line, they are disconnected from their heart. The same is true when you speak flat, you are disconnected from your heart, from your message, from your passion. Another comment I hear from people who come to work with me is that they feel like they are interesting and engaging in conversation but when they go to present they just fall flat. There is one key reason why you are flat lining, why you are disconnecting. Let me explain this school of thought and tell you how to fix it.
First, flat lining means being disconnected from the voice and the body. The voice cannot work when we are in our heads. If we want to connect to our material and bring it to life so that our audience can connect to us, we have to look at getting connected. We have three parts that must work together in order for us to be connected so we can tap into the material, the subject, the passion and bring it to life for the audience in a captivating way. The three parts that must connect are: the mind (words), the body (movement and gestures) and the voice (the delivery). If we are disconnected from the voice, we cannot utilize it to bring the words to life.
Only one thing causes us to disconnect and that is getting in our heads, focusing on the words and/or the script. We get very bogged down in the words, the delivery of the words, saying the words, not messing up the words. In fact, I would say the majority of people give all of the focus to the words. If you are focusing solely on the words you are completely in your head and if you are completely in your head then you are completely disconnected from your body and your voice…flat lining is imminent. We have to stop giving all the power to the words. I’m sure you’ve heard me say it before and I’m sure you are going to hear me say it again, the words are everything and they are nothing. If we cannot bring the words to life, we cannot affect the senses which in turn touch the emotions which in turn make the impact that we are looking for.
Solution, simple yet not so simple. First off, we have to get away from the words and for most people that is a terrifying thought. But, here’s the thing, you don’t need them as much as you think you do. What needs to happen is this:
Don’t try to memorize a script. In fact, that’s just about the worst thing you can do if you want to bring the words to life, unless you are going to practice so much that you absolutely connect to the memorized words. If you are not able to practice extensively, then you will end up giving the entire presentation focused on retrieving the words…in your head.
Move to the least restrictive script you can feel comfortable with. What this means is figure out what you think you need as far as a script goes. If it’s a full script, okay, maybe long bullet points. Start with where you are the most comfortable but then take some of that text away and practice with less text, more ideas and concepts, less text. Once you feel comfortable with a less words on the page, take it down another notch and practice with it again. I believe that everyone has a certain set up of notes that works for them, I think you should find that but I also think you have to be careful and not short change yourself by believing you need the words or you will fail, you are what will bring the words to life, you are part of the equation as well. If everything is centered around the words, well, it’s just the words.
Practice out loud and put it into your body. Practice is key and I believe that just like the amount of words on the page you need to feel secure, you know how much you need to practice. But, here’s the thing, you’ve got to practice out loud. Far too many people come to me and they just read their notes over and over in their head…again, back in the head. It’s essential to say the words out loud so that you are putting them in your body, you are using your voice to say the words and hearing if you need to make changes. (See my article on muscle memory, I explain this concept in detail). If you say the words out loud, add movement to them then you are putting the presentation in your body, once it’s in the muscles you can draw from it when you need it, if it’s never been put there, only in your head, you’ve nothing to draw from.
I know these three techniques can be big game changers for you if you apply them. I certainly understand and in no way mean to minimize scripts, I use a script of key words many times. But, I want you to realize two important things. First, you don’t need that script as much as you think you do. Two, the words are not where all the power lies, the power is shared between the words and what you do with them. If you give all the power to the words, in the end, the words, not the connection you make wins. I have seen massive shifts in people in every industry doing all types of presentations when they get away from the words and start stepping into their voice power to bring the words to life. No doubt vocal variety starts coming into play at this point and I’m always ready to talk about variety, but the first step is getting out of your head. It’s key to your presentations, pitches, videos, webinars, crowdfunding videos, you name it, it’s key because it’s the only way we will connect to you and that’s non-negotiable.
Make sure and follow me on twitter tracyagoodwin and I’d love to hear more about your voice goals for 2016, email at firstname.lastname@example.org