Welcome to week question mark exclamation point of shut down and Zoom meetings. Long, drawn-out, meeting for meeting sake Zoom meetings.
Are you tired yet?
I am, but maybe not of what you think. I don’t mind Zoom meetings – they are fine. Just like in life, too many of them should be emails or quick calls, but fine. We can’t ask for everything to change and become reflective of how much time gets used and how wisely.
My exhaustion comes from the lack of modulation in voices.
You know what I’m talking about – you hop on a meeting and the droning…the consistent cadence that never changes and feels so much like white noise. It’s one of the easiest ways to make your voice dynamic and for some reason, one of the ways that is tapped last (or next to last).
Your voice can be white noise after a while. Right now just silence everything – if you have music on, the tv, your partner or roommate. Ask them to be quiet for a quick moment and just listen to the sounds around you. What do you hear? If I take a moment from typing I’ll hear my dog breathing (he sits close), some radiator or AC noises (something outside and electrical), the fan in the other room, and some birds. Unless I’m focusing on those noises, I won’t hear them. They are consistent, with a pattern that repeats over and over.
Voices are the same.
If you’re really excited or really low energy or constantly anything, your voice can be ignored much like the sounds of a fan in the other room. If you have a consistent pattern, you’re at the risk of losing your audience.
So what do we do? I was at a conference a few years back and a speaker RAN into the room, YELLING at the top of his lungs to “wake up” the audience. Every few minutes (no joke) he would yell AGAIN.
He would yell.
I was mortified. There are so many better and less…annoying…ways to change up your cadence! They are all going to feel a bit contrived at first, so experiment with these suggested tactics on your next video call:
Many of us talk at a consistent speed, even with our filler words. We’ll let words fall out of our mouths at the same pace without ever thinking about changing it intentionally. We might snowball: you start going faster and faster, picking up more speed as time goes on, much like a snowball racing down a hill, picking up more and more snow.
Try intentionally going a bit faster for a short amount of time – maybe you’re showing some excitement or adventure with your pacing. Maybe you’re telling a story or recapping details folks know. The key is to actually start and stop intentionally. Same with going a bit slower – you don’t want to talk like a robot or go so slow we are bored just listening to you talk. Emphasize things and points by slowing down to make a point.
QUICK! Think of former President Obama’s speech pattern.
Amazing right? I bet you can hear those pauses and breaks. Pausing is an INCREDIBLE tool for cadence. You take one, and it’s a show of confidence, allows your audience to reflect and you get to tap intrapersonal communication. Those questions you ask your audience to think about, the things you ask them to consider – give a silence after you ask to get them to THINK about what you want them to think about!
Take a REAL pause…not one you think is a pause that is just a moment of silence. Ask a question and wait…wait…wait…now speak again. Look at people while you pause and don’t rush to fill the air with noise (your voice).
Big note – do not mimic the cadence of someone you admire. We saw that with Mayor Pete and Obama. He mimicked Obama’s pauses and his cadence, straight up emulated him instead of being inspired by him and came across as a discount version. Be a first-rate version of yourself, not a knock off of someone else.
I get so emotional baby…every time I think of you
Adding an emotional lens to your voice will automatically change your cadence. You’ll change a tone if you smile, pacing if you think about being excited or serious, and you’ll pause if you get reflective. Emotions drive so much of our communication, why not use it in your favor to show some of the passion behind your words? Impact follows intention: by purposely doing something, in this case, showing your emotional cards, you’ll be a bit more impactful with your words.
This one tripping you up? Try saying a few sentences or reading something with different emotional lenses on top. Happy, sad, angry and excited are great places to start – see what changes in your voice when you add that lens. Some of it, trash. Some changes? GOLD.
Did you make an awesome point? Try making it again. Repeat what you just said for emphasis, and you will have altered your normal cadence just by saying the same thing twice. Want it to be even more effective? Say it faster or slower that second time. That repetition coupled with a cadence change will snag attention.
Remember, you WANT people to listen to the words and point you’re saying – otherwise, why are you talking, and why isn’t it just an email?