Telling it like it is

Sep 22 2008 by Janet Howd Print This Article

I have long toyed with the idea of creating varied ready-samples of good quality presentations for Management Issues readers to watch, replay and learn from, but could never come up with an economically viable way of producing them. Imagine my delight then, when I came across

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds.

The website at contains a multiplicity of presentations from leading thinkers, each lasting no more that twenty minutes.

Most of the presenters deliver specific information in a way that would persuade even the most cynical listener to attend. And though some personalities will appeal more to some rather than others, I urge you to take the opportunity to look and listen, and consider as you do what elements could benefit your own presentational style.

Presenters working within the parameters set by TED talks let voice to do most of the communicating for them and use only small amounts of pertinent visual aids.

They maintain audience interest through changes of pitch, pace, tone, and volume.

They allow moments of silence in which new material can be digested but take note of the little coughs and shuffles audiences emit when pauses that last too long disrupt listener breathing patterns.

When such discomfort is setting in an experienced speaker moves on so as not to disrupt the flow of ideas knowing that human beings need breathing space to be able to attend to anything.

Notice that each presentation - no matter how complex the topic - lasts for little more than twenty minutes and that specific segments within that confine, rarely last more than three minutes.

Song writers have long used the three minute rule to sustain listener interest. The recording industry took its cue from that fact. The first shellac discs revolved for three minutes because vocal performers across the board, from Bessie Smith to Enrico Caruso performed material which fell within that time constraint.

Even today, when it is possible to lay down a continuous track, it is rare for singer songwriters to set ideas that can't be encapsulated within a three minute cycle.

Reverberant words and music set ideas reverberating in the mind. This is one reason we all have so many song lyrics stuck in our heads. Set your presentations to music. Add a rhythm section. This will help you to segment your ideas into memorable packets.

Keep control of vocal volume. Shouting makes people want to get away from you. Too loud a sound at too constant a pitch comes uncomfortably close to hitting on the resonant frequency that allowed Joshua's trumpeters to bring walls tumbling down and instinctively reminds us that the force of Magnetic Induction might do the same to our own rib cages!

Interestingly, Justin Rattner - top technological dog at Intel Ė recently stated that by controlling the power of this inherently destructive force we shall - and in the not too distant future - be able to power all computers and other electronic gadgetry wirelessly.

He foresees that "transmit resonators" placed in picture frames, walls, desks, tables, or any other common outer surface with sufficient depth to accept their sockets will mediate the vibrant power of magnetic induction to deliver information in a well modulated form.

Until that technology come on stream, however, we have built-in "transmit resonators" which can cross air ways wirelessly. By trial and error and close observation of people already well practised in vocal technique we can make sure our ideas radiate out to their fullest extent.

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About The Author

Janet Howd
Janet Howd

Janet Howd is a voice coach who works with corporate, academic, legal, theatrical and private clients in the UK, North America, Australia and Europe.