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What Makes a Presentation Boring – Part 2 – Same-old, Same Old

 

In the corporate world, it’s common to have “webinars” for routine type events that don’t happen often.  Rather than having everyone come together for a meeting in person, everyone gets on a conference call or a specific website and the information is reviewed while you listen to the person on the phone and watch the slides on the screen.

Toward the end of my time in corporate America, I had to go to the annual webinar on performance reviews.  Since I was a manager and with a new company (my old company had been acquired) it was important for me to attend and pay attention so I was sure to get my staff’s reviews done correctly.

The woman from HR who did the webinar had a very pleasant voice.  Actually, a little too pleasant.  She spoke with a certain cadence that was easy to listen to… but a little bit hypnotic.  I can’t believe it but I actually feel asleep at my desk listening to her!  Sure it was right after lunch, but come on!  That’s not like me!  I found out later that I wasn’t the only one!  I attended the same training on a different day but that leads me to the next aspect of what makes a presentation boring – the same-old, same old.

If within a presentation there’s a lot of the same – whether it be voice or cadence or information – you’ll lose audience members.  One of the biggest offenders of the same-old, same old – is being monotone.

Monotone

People who speak in a monotone voice don’t change the inflection, their volume, or their pacing throughout a presentation.  If you’ve ever been told you have a monotone voice, start with one aspect of change at a time.  Use that change in everyday conversation.  Then add another change.  Keep adding change until you comfortably add more variety into the way you speak.

For example, start by identifying a word or a phrase that’s important to something you have to say, and say that word or phrase more loudly and slowly.  Let’s use the previous paragraph as an example.  If you had to emphasize one word in each sentence, which would your choose?  What would it sound like if you said that one word louder?  How about saying that one word more slowly?  Choose and try it now for yourself.

People who speak in a monotone voice don’t change the inflection, their volume, or their pacing throughout a presentation.  If you’ve ever been told you have a monotone voice, start with one aspect of change at a time.  Use that change in everyday conversation.  Then add another change.  Keep adding change until you comfortably add more variety into the way you speak.

How did it go?  Was it a little awkward?  If you’re used to speaking in a flat, monotone voice, it will feel awkward.  But try it anyway.  Record yourself.  Give yourself permission to feel uncomfortable.  It’s a lot of work if you naturally speak in a monotone way.  But you can do it with some practice.  Practice in low-risk, casual activities first, then stretch yourself by adding more volume and emotion when you speak in public.  It may seem really exaggerated to you at first.  But allow yourself to feel a little foolish and see where it takes you.  Relax into so that you don’t seem insincere or contrived but give it a try.  Because you already know, the monotone isn’t cutting it.

What’s Worked for YOU?

If you have overcome a monotone voice… or have helped others to overcome monotone tendencies… tell us what works!  We want to share our ideas here so we can all learn!

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