Speech Smarts

Do You Take Care of Respect?

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Take care … TCB

In two minutes and twenty-nine seconds, Aretha Franklin captures a basic human need.  Her timing was so good that the song became an anthem for a generation of women and still touches us today.  When you speak, you probably have more than a couple of minutes, but do you really need it to communicate respect?  The essence of respect is in the stand that you take, in the speed that you speak and the span of your speech.

“How long must we sing this song?” Well, it has been almost thirty years since U2 began singing and searing this refrain into the consciousness of millions and millions of people. Each time Bono sings this song, he is paying respect to those who lost their lives, on a bloody Sunday in 1972.  He is also asking us to have respect for the lives of others. Your subject may not be as significant or your expression as magnificent.  Yet, you can be just as respectful to your audience.  Keep your comments to the time allotted.  In fact, strive to distil the essence of what you want to say into the simplest, strongest, and shortest sentences. Your audience is entrusting you with the most precious part of their lives, their time.  Respect their lives by taking as little of it as possible and giving them a quick return on their attention.

Speed kills a presentation.  I know I have rushed through presentations when I realized I was running out of time.  I am pretty sure I sounded like an auctioneer by the time I was done.   I am also sure my listeners were done with me, way before that.  Now, moseying through your speech is not such a good idea either. Why? Because your audience came to listen to, not wait for, your message.  The pace of your delivery demonstrates your respect for your audience.  Varying your rate makes you more interesting to listen to.  Changing your pace, according to your content, gives you’re a soulful sound.   Slow down to make the subtle points poignant and the complex points clear.  Speed up the self-explanatory statements and simple stories. A killer presentation respects the speed the audience needs.

When Ben E. King crooned “Stand by me” he touched the heart of being there for each other.  Telling your audience where you stand shows them how life has touched you.  Positioning statements respect the audience’s desire to know where you are coming from, and frankly, aren’t that hard to create.  The reason most speakers fail to make them is that they are afraid to take a stand.  Without a personal perspective, a presentation is just a boring transfer of information.  There is a direct relationship between the strength of your opinion and how interesting a speaker you are. Effective positioning statements begin by taking one side of an argument and supporting it with several reasons.  Ideally this is a blend of your thinking and feelings.  When your audience knows what you think and how you feel, they won’t always agree with you, but they appreciate your take on the topic.

Speakers who take a stand respect the fact that others will disagree.  Speakers who pace their presentations respect the rate of the listener’s attention.  Speakers who refine their timing respect life’s most precious gift.  I didn’t know what Aretha meant when she sang “R-E-S-P-E-C-T Take care… TCB”; turns out, TCB stands for taking care of business.  The business of speaking is to communicate respect for your ideas, for your audience and for life itself.

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About the Author:

David Nemitz has designed and delivered over 10,000 sales presentations, professional development programs and executive coaching sessions for corporations and governmental organizations such as the US State Department, The French Consulate, and American Express. When he is not helping others define and refine their strengths, you can find him watching the sun set over The Magic City or strolling through The City of Light where he lives with his wife Ninette.