When someone gives feedback about speaking, how often have you heard “That was great - just add a little more vocal variety,” or “your gestures could be more dynamic,” or “try moving more on stage”? When offered at the right time, in the right way, to the right person, any of the above can be appropriate, or even excellent advice. We’ve definitely seen our share of speakers who need some (or all) of those tips. No one wants to hear a speaker who doesn’t have enthusiasm for their topic, or even worse, who seems determined to put their audience straight to sleep. I think it would be safe to say that is an area in which we all agree.
On the other hand, have you ever heard a speaker who is so unceasingly dynamic, they make you want to jump up and say "Hey, could you just relax?" Always dynamic is not dynamic. When a presenter is always in "dynamic speaker mode," they are not only tiring to listen to, they may come across as less then genuine. Neither of those results is a worthy goal for someone who wants to be an effective speaker.
What's a speaker to do? I'm glad you asked, because the solution is simple. All you need to do is occasionally "drop it into neutral," and add no dynamic inflection at all. That will make the times when you do use dynamics far more effective, as it will leverage those dynamics.
"Dropping into neutral" can work best when you make your most important point. This can seem somewhat counter-intuitive to those used to making points while increasing their dynamic level, but it does work.
Don’t take my word for it. Try it with your next speech, and ask someone in the audience whom you trust how it worked for them.
It is said that variety is the spice of life. That is especially true for speeches and other presentations. "Dropping into neutral" gives you that extra variety. The hardest part may be breaking the “always dynamic” habit. By all means, be dynamic, enthusiastic, and energetic. Then occasionally “drop it into neutral” and see how well it works. Just don’t stay there all the time.
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