Successful speakers engage their listeners by pacing the message in a way that allows listeners to understand fully. The key is to allow your ideas to “land” when you speak. I recommend a technique based on one that I learned from my mentor, the Academy-Award-winning actress, Olympia Dukakis.
In today’s blog, I’ll present Step One:
Think in thought groups, instead of thinking in words. This will help your pacing to become organic, authentic, and compelling.
Research tells us that people don’t think in words. We think (and listen) in complete thoughts. Match the way you speak with the way your listeners listen! As you prepare to speak for business, focus on your thought groups by using these three strategies:
1. Review your notes and analyze your whole message. As you rehearse aloud, be conscious of the number of complete thoughts that you present in each sentence – probably one, two, or three complete thoughts in any given sentence.
2. Be mindful of the moments in your message when one complete thought ends and the next one is about to begin. These are your transition moments.
3. Here is a useful and fun technique adapted from the theater. My mentor, Olympia Dukakis, taught me a rehearsal technique that helps actors internalize the actions and emotions of each section of a play script. I have adapted Olympia’s technique for business speakers, so that you will become sensitized to your thought groups. Here is a good way to begin your rehearsal process:
1. Set out a few chairs, as you do in musical chairs, and begin by sitting in one of them.
2. As you rehearse aloud, move to a different chair each time you complete a thought. Speak each complete thought from a different chair.
3. Rehearse this way until your mind and body have internalized the moments when each complete thought has ended and the next one is about to begin.
This early rehearsal exercise will increase your awareness of your thought groups and will prepare you for Step 2 in this process (which I’ll be writing about soon).
Be sure to read my next blog and/or watch the videoblog: Step 2 for “Engaging Your Listeners: Allow Your Ideas to Land”.
May you be a successful speaker!