Pause For Clarity

A polar bear walks into a bar and says, “can I have 2 rum and cokes and… uncomfortable pause a pint of beer please?

Barman says, “why the big paws?”

You can have as many good ideas as you like, but unless you communicate them well, you might as well be shouting into the abyss. No-one is listening. When you get your chance to speak or to share something you should make it count.

There are so many opportunities, sometimes just to the team, sometimes to the wider organisation, or perhaps at a conference or meetup.

How do you make it count? There’s 2 aspects, delivery & content. It’s easy to think that the content is all that matters, but delivery is just as important.

What can you do to improve your delivery?

One of the most repeated pieces of advice is, to slow down and take your time. It is great advice. Instinctively we know that slower more steady talk is easier to follow, seems better.

Actually executing that is easier said then done. Your heart is racing, you are standing in front of 65 people you don’t know, the adrenaline is coursing through your veins. Your natural instinct is fight-or-flight. Flight is fast. Go fast, get out of here as quickly as possible.

There is a simple strategy.

Simply, write instructions in your notes/written speech to pause. It’s a simple note: Pause for clarity or Pause for comedic effect.

The instruction Pause tells you to do it, the “why” helps you ensure that it had it’s intended effect. Sometimes you might look out across the audience and they haven’t gotten clarity from what you just said. You might use this time to realise that you need to re-iterate or re-state your important statement.

The other really good instruction for yourself is, sip some water. It can serve as a pacing queue, but keeping your throat lubricated is also great for ensuring your voice doesn’t get tired.

From a personal perspective

A personal instruction that I have started writing for myself is: intonate. I’ve got a condition with my voice which means that I quickly get tired and a sore throat if I’m not aware of the way I am making the shapes with my mouth. Reminding myself throughout a talk like this means that, like drinking the water, I’m able to speak clearly throughout.

Photo by Hans-Jurgen Mager on Unsplash

Michael Gall

Software Publican