Mic Check Vol. 16: The quality of your voice determines how your message is received. Here's how to practice.
Come for the advice, stay for the video of a TED audience doing vocal warmups.
Have you ever noticed what tends to make you tune someone out while they're speaking?
While we focus a lot on content and method of delivery, how we show up vocally during presentations (and even big conversations) sometimes matters even more. We subconsciously take confidence and trustworthiness cues from body language and quality of voice—think of the last time you stopped listening to a fidgety speaker—so nailing these things are the foundation to a resonant presentation.
Julian Treasure breaks down how to start noticing (and improving) these practices in this TED talk. Unlike nailing the content and structure of a presentation, acing delivery takes a lot of intention and practice. If you have a chance to listen back to yourself speaking, try listening for:
Register: are you speaking from your chest, rather than your nose or throat? Elizabeth Holmes was on to something...we do tend to vote for politicians with lower voices.
Timbre: does your voice feel rich, warm, and smooth? If not, try fixing your posture.
Prosody: does your voice have a singsong quality to it? This metalanguage actually imparts meaning—like ending a sentence with a question inflection—and if we misuse it, our audience will be confused.
Pace, pitch, and volume: are you varying these things and applying them to the right moments in your presentation? Are you making use of silence?
Like standing with your feet firmly planted, focusing on the quality of my voice has made me feel like I have a bit of a superpower when it comes to presenting. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
📚 Open tabs
What team Rhetoric is reading during those awkwardly-timed few minutes between Zooms.
Remember when we talked about how smart people make complex things seem simple? I loved this piece on how anyone—not just world-class mathematicians—can quantify infinity.
This week's storytelling masterclass: this exquisitely-woven story about trust as a form of capital (and one which has taken a major value hit since the start of the pandemic).
We know that art has storytelling power. Norman Rockwell's depiction of wartime life in America is an excellent example of story through art, and this piece from Phoode explores how Rockwell's depictions of food strategically told stories of surplus and scarcity.
✨ New ways to present better
Here's what's going on at Rhetoric this week:
Let's get your team in Rhetoric: you can now add members directly from the workspace homepage.
Have a feature idea you want to see in Rhetoric? Add it to our public roadmap!