Speaking Lessons From Sea Turtles
Have you ever been overwhelmed while listening to someone speaking? Last week in Marathon, Florida, I visited a hospital and sanctuary. The people there do great work to assist sick and injured sea turtles.
During the guided tour, we were led by Maria. She was energetic, passionate, and…..
From the time our tour began at 9:00 am, until it ended at 10:20, Maria didn’t stop talking. She spoke in broken English at a fast rate of speed, and a higher than normal pitch. Her delivery style didn’t change the entire time.
By the time we walked away from the facility, I was mentally exhausted. I felt I’d been verbally assaulted.
As we drove away, I thought about the number of times communication breaks down because speakers:
- Speak too fast
- Never change their pitch
- Don’t speak clearly
Two additional thoughts came to mind:
- Maria would be served well to take a cue from the gentle, slow-paced creatures she’s working so hard to protect. From time-to-time, it’s OK to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n when you’re speaking. In fact, a slower pace signals to the listener that what you’re saying is important.
- The main culprit for this ever-present problem is: too much information.
This experience inspired me to go back and review material I’m preparing for my next two corporate coaching clients. Keep in mind, I teach these concepts. And I’m just as prone to falling prey to making the mistake of creating information overload.
One solution to this challenge: stay focused on one central idea. Rather than attempt to tell your audience everything you know, pick the one concept you believe will be most beneficial. Then choose stories and examples that best support this core concept.
Then, create opportunities for audience involvement. In my case – teaching corporate storytelling – I ask participants to pair up, create first drafts of their stories, then share with the group.
Does this work?
Yes, far better than talking at them for the entire allotted time.
Ask me how I know this. I shudder to think how many audiences I verbally assaulted years ago before I learned this important concept.
Why is it a better way to present?
The audience feels more involved, they walk away with a tangible benefit (in my case, the first draft of a story), and they don’t feel as if they’ve been talked at the entire time.
I love the passion and enthusiasm of people like Maria at the turtle sanctuary. I can’t help but think how much more impactful she could’ve been if I didn’t feel overwhelmed by her presentation. She and other presenters like her need to follow the example of the majestic sea turtle – occasionally slow your pace.
To avoid this common speaking mistake in your next talk, strip your information to one key point, support that idea with your best stories and evidence, and allow the audience to participate. Do this, and you’ll create a long-lasting impact.
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