Presentation Rhythm — One Key for Success
I’m sitting in my beach chair, facing the ocean, trying to keep my feet within the shadow of the beach umbrella. It’s hot—in the nineties. The sky is a little hazy. The sand is hot, so I sit where it’s cooler, close to the shore.
Through the ear buds of my iPhone, I hear the Rolling Stones singing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” And as I become hypnotized by the ebb-and-flow rhythm of the ocean’s waves, a thought creeps in.
Presentation Rhythm Ebbs and Flows
The ebb and flow of the waves is like a presentation rhythm. From beginning to end, an effective presentation shifts from high energy to low energy in a constant ebb-and-flow rhythm. Where nature controls the ocean rhythm, the speaker controls the presentation rhythm.
Constant, intense storm waves crash and damage the shore. Similarly, a presentation at a constant high energy level overloads and exhausts the audience. Keeping a presentation at a low energy level tires and bores them.
Control the Presentation Rhythm
The effective presenter controls the presentation rhythm by being aware of the audience, shifting between energy levels and varying the intensity of delivery. Throughout the presentation, the experienced speaker observes what the audience is doing.
Are they losing interest, fidgeting or nodding off? If so, the speaker checks his or her own energy level.
Your audience exchanges energy with you and mirrors your energy level. If your energy level is high, the audience will experience a high energy level. If your energy level is low, the audience’s energy level will be low.
Establish an ebb-and-flow rhythm in your energy level and your audience will follow. Do this with movement and gestures; varying your vocal rate, volume, and pitch; and using a mixture of well-placed stories, humor, questions, and interaction.
My red shoulders are feeling the effects of the sun, which is now lower in the late afternoon sky. The Rolling Stones are still serenading me with strains of “Start Me Up.” I’m awakening from my trance-like state induced by the ebb-and-flow rhythm of the waves.
A thought enters my consciousness. Something that Peggy Noonan, author and chief speech writer for Former President Ronald Reagan, said: “A speech is poetry — cadence, rhythm, imagery, sweep! A speech reminds us that words, like children, have the power to make dance the dullest beanbag of a heart.”
Yes, a presentation rhythm is like the rhythm of the ocean waves. The key to success is how you manage the ebb and flow.
©Allan Misch, 2014. All rights reserved.
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