Have you ever envied those speakers who seem to reach out and pull the audience in with their presence, without bluster or ego. Just a presence that draws listeners in that makes you feel every word. You come away calm, energized, engaged.
An example of it that I’ve really enjoyed recently is the brilliant Eddie Marsan and Juliet Stevenson in action here in an advert for Audible. Notice how they pull you in with their voice, presence, aliveness to their senses. And they do it very simply with their words.
The biggest mistake most people make is to assume that this is something only actors can do. Not true.
It’s more straightforward than you realise.
The essential to grasp is that if you want to make an audience feel every word, then you must feel the words, see the words, hear the words yourself FIRST.
Imagine inspiring an audience about a vision you have. Or something you want to avoid. Before you speak about it get the movie of that vision clear in your mind – what will you all be seeing, hearing, feeling when it happens. When you speak take yourself into that movie, see it, hear it, feel it. It may just show up as a gleam in the eyes. But the effect is powerful because the audience feel the excitement of the vision, or the fear of a threat on the horizon.
Above all keep it subtle. It won’t work if you force it on an audience. Avoid the cardinal performance sin of “demonstrating” emotion. Trust quite simply that if you feel it, the audience will feel it too.
If you don’t believe me test it – the most fun way (if you have children around to tell stories to) is to tell a story and really engage with your senses and notice how they respond.
Or – as we are all children at heart – take some content you have to present and work on making it come alive to your senses before you speak. This works even if you work in more left-brained industries. I’ve seen actuaries do this well, telling stories about the oldest woman in the world, and earthquakes. And the best bit is that less is more. Even when the effect is incredibly subtle it is powerful. It’s a presence born of being in tune with your senses.
And when you use this skill, as Marsan says “A voice can conjure almost anything… From a diamond the size of an iceberg… to an elephant living in a tin can”.
Feel every word – and fire up the imagination and engagement of your audience.