The feeling behind the words

1 Apr


When giving a presentation – it’s all about the words that make up your content – right?

A commonly held view.

Consider this famous quote from the lips of Maya Angelou:

“I have found that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but will never forget how you made them feel.”

Now, she is a beautiful writer and clearly she is not saying that the words are unimportant. However, words need to be brought to life with energy in their delivery. Words on their own will not help people feel. Continuing with the thoughts of Maya Angelou, concerning words:

“It takes the human voice to enthuse them with deeper shades of meaning”.

Using an acting technique called, “actioning”; you, as a speaker, can inhabit the words you speak, paint pictures with the words, and convey the meaning of those words in the tone and pitch of your voice. That way you will make a connection with your audience, so that they listen and care.

As we are told by marketing experts; people will make their minds up as to whether they are going to trust you, listen, or buy from you, on an emotional level and will then justify their decision through logic.

So, the clever argument, the supporting quotes and testimonials from experts and clients are very important, but an audience needs to connect with YOU first. Then they will look at fact-based credibility.

If you don’t attend to HOW you are speaking and only concentrate on WHAT you are saying, you run the risk of your message being compromised, not trusted, or not heard.

Ignoring this can have serious consequences. You may think that some politicians have been elected, politicians whose content, if you look at it, is at best hollow, and at worst harmful. In your opinion they may have been elected on how they tapped into a feeling that their audience had; they built a rapport with the power of their delivery and the words they chose were all about evoking emotion, which trumped close examination of the actual words. Potentially, unless people with great content also work hard on their delivery, great leaders will not get elected.

I have worked with clients who have come to me saying that they have their speech ready because they already have the slides. The slides have been selected on the information that was needed to be conveyed, not the meaning or feelings that needed to be triggered in the minds of the audience in order for them to take note… let alone a consideration of the flow of a speech.

Now clearly many business presentations need to be organised around the information you want to convey and the outcome you want to achieve. Some people may also be given slides that they need to use by their employer. However, if you consider this a word for word script it will be a “read-a- long” exercise rather than a speech, which you ignite with your voice. You will have, in effect, hand cuffed yourself. Talking to slides rather than spouting them word for word, using them as a springboard for the thoughts and emotion you want to evoke means you release the words into life.

Start with the message you want to convey; have an idea of the information you want to use,  and then spend time considering the emotional response you want to trigger in your audience to make a connection.

When you have established that, all the right words will fall into place, and your audience will feel as well as listen.

I am running a series of Masterclasses that help you to speak with ease, secure in your own strong presence, which you may be interested in, so if you would like to find out more, and know how I can help you to gain confidence (and actually enjoy) speaking, contact Fiona Whytehead at fiona@locuscoaching.com.


Fiona Whytehead
By Fiona Whytehead

Founder and Director, Locus Coaching


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Fiona Whytehead
By Fiona Whytehead

Founder and Director, Locus Coaching


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