Use Vocal Variety and Attire to Engage

I recently played the role of Amanda Wingfield in the play, “The Glass Menagerie” and was reminded that so much of the rehearsal process for a play should be used by business people who want to make a dynamic impact when they speak.  Here are two tips that can help enhance your credibility during business meetings, presentations, sales calls, and more.

Engage With Vocal Variety:
Our director was confident that we actors would have no problem making ourselves heard by audience members in the last row of the theater.  Knowing that there were some intimate, “lower volume” scenes in the play, she took the extra precaution of planting an assistant at various spots in the last row to listen, so that we actors could be told of any moments when we could not be heard adequately.  Business speakers/presenters who are not using a microphone can benefit from a similar strategy, to help you use a range of vocal dynamics (sound volume) to engage your listeners.  Do the following:  Arrive at your speaking venue/meeting room early; arrange to have someone listen as you speak parts of your talk, and be sure to speak any sections where you will choose to use a lower volume than usual (perhaps for dramatic effect).  Use your sound assistant’s feedback to guide you on your volume levels, so that you can use a range of vocal dynamics with the confidence that you will always be heard.  This range of dynamics is key to listener engagement.

Feel and Look Like Your Message:
As we rehearsed “The Glass Menagerie”, I naturally wanted to immerse myself in the character and the setting as quickly and thoroughly as possible.  One way that I do this when rehearsing a play is to wear rehearsal clothes that give me the same (or similar) feeling as the costume(s) in performance will.  This helps me feel/appear to be “one” with the character, so that the audience will perceive no difference between “Maria” and (in the case of this particular play) “Amanda”.  As a business speaker/presenter, your rehearsal process can help you become “one” with your content, so that every nuance of your delivery will project and support one, seamless message.  Try the following as you rehearse.  Consider the nature of your message, who your listeners are, and how they dress.  Allow this information to help you plan what you will wear.  When rehearsing, wear those clothes or even just one or two pieces from that outfit (shoes, blouses, and jackets are particularly useful for giving you the right feeling).  Become conscious of the way your clothing affects your feelings about yourself and your demeanor, and make any necessary adjustments in clothing.  This will help you feel and project the image you desire.

Use these strategies from the theater, and watch your prospects, clients, and other business listeners become increasingly engaged when you speak!

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