Have you ever watched a speech with a good, memorable message, but felt something wasn’t right?
There could be several reasons. One of the most common is incongruity between the speakers words and her face.
I’ve heard too many speakers convey one emotion with their words, but display another with their faces.
For example, John was sharing a story about his mother’s serious illness. It was a well written scene, and has the potential to create an emotional impact.
There was one problem. As John told the story, he had a slight smile. I was distracted because I had one thought, “Why is he smiling?”
During our debrief, I said, “John, do you realize you were smiling while you told me about your mom’s illness?”
He looked surprised. “I was?”
I said, “Yes. I know you weren’t happy about the situation. Why do you think you were smiling?”
After additional discussion, John came to the realization why he was smiling. “I think it’s because I was nervous.”
Typically, that’s the reason people smile during serious scenes in a speech.
The point to take away from this is that, if you’re not careful, your face will send a mixed message to your audience. They might not know why they feel something doesn’t make sense. They’ll walk away not completely sold on your message.
If you want to understand this issue further, see my blogpost from 2014. It discusses a famous, often misquoted, study about verbal and physical incongruity in communication. To read the article, click here.
How do you solve this problem?
Video record yourself giving your speech.
Then, watch yourself giving your speech.
This may seem obvious, but, I’ve met countless people who never watch their recordings. They tell me “I hate to watch myself” or “I hate the sound of my voice.” That may be true, but, to quote my friend and mentor Darren LaCroix, “Too bad! WE had to listen…” So should you!
This is meant to be funny. But there is a serious point. If you want to leave the biggest possible impact with your speech, watch and listen to it. That’s the quickest way to discover and eliminate incongruity.
To maximize the effect of viewing speech recordings, my mentors suggest watching three times:
#1 – With the sound off, video only. This enables you to focus on distracting mannerisms in your body and face.
#2 – At double speed. This will cause specific habits to jump out at you. At double speed, they become more obvious
#3 – With both sound and video. This will help you review the congruity of your message with the physical delivery of the speech.
If you have a message with sharing, it’s also worth reviewing. This can ensure you aren’t confusing your audience. Record and review your delivery. You’ll create the best possible experience, and leave the greatest impact on your audience.
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