In this post we are going to see what Sally did to dramatically improve her talk delivery just a few days before an important event, and how it helped her go from good to awesome.
Sally had an important corporate event planned for the week after we met for the first time. She was going to be the keynote speaker at the main event of the Salesforce Week of Innovation. I offered to coach her and she jumped at the opportunity. We met online for one hour exactly one week before the event.
She felt confident that she had prepared her keynote thoroughly. And I can confirm, she did. She wrote her talk herself building on corporate guidelines and she knew it by heart. Yet she felt something was missing.
We decided to avoid touching the content itself. I was very careful not to confuse her by asking for last minute changes. We decided instead to work on the dynamic modulation of her delivery.
Modulating the delivery of your talk
Different parts of the talk require different modulations. In speed, tone, pitch. With Sally we recognised at least 2 completely different modulations that appeared along her talk. In some parts she wanted to show enthusiasm and positive energy. In others she needed to stimulate thinking and reflection.
So we played around with her delivery. I allowed her to explore how to make her speech more enthusiastic or more reflexive in different parts. After a few iterations we got to a point where she would modulate her speech brilliantly, making it much more engaging that it was before.
Rehearsing away from your desk
But we weren’t done yet. I asked her to stand up in the middle of the room she was in at the moment - her living room - to feel the space around her and deliver the talk.
That is always an eye opening moment! All of a sudden you need to deliver your talk away from the comfort of your desk in front of your computer. You are surprised at how different it feels and it can be a shock!
After that she was ready to rehearse her new delivery style and she still had several days to do it.
Use silence to your advantage
We met again online a few days before the event and she had practiced her talk thoroughly. It was really another, much better talk!
She observed that she would often run out of breath and this disrupted her ability to deliver. What was really happening is that in the enthusiasm to deliver the talk she would never pause during her speech.
So I suggested using silence to her advantage. When saying a sentence which stimulated reflection in the audience, why not pause for a moment, to give them the time to digest what she just said? This would in turn give her time to breathe!
Finally the great day came, and she delivered her best talk ever. "I did it!!!!! Honestly went so well. I found all the natural pauses and took my time... I couldn’t have done it without you."
Not only that, the VP of Marketing congratulated her and gave her a big hug as soon as she came off the stage. Mission, accomplished!
To hear directly form her voice about this experience, check the interview we recorded a few days later.
I trained dozens of TED speakers to success, and I can help a speaker turn around their talk very quickly. Contact me if you are interested.