The Freeze

Clients often send us clips of their live presentations, podcasts, or videos for our comments. One thing is constant-- speakers on a public or virtual stage are rarely as lively or persuasive as they are in person. We appreciate how difficult it is to find the balance between being formal vs casual. However, for your speaking to be successful, getting the right tone is essential.

Under pressure, humans retreat to safety or what’s familiar. For example, speakers will pronounce each word carefully, resulting in a measured vocal cadence which can also sound phony. The material becomes the master, causing personality and insights to be excised. Worse yet, an audience judges the speaker to be less trustworthy and less persuasive.

This constriction can also be caused by external pressures. CEOs and CFOs freeze when they present to their Board, especially when delivering bad news… When they tire, voice-over artists make mistakes or lose their conversational tone… And financial advisors or pitch teams tighten up in front of important clients or venture capitalists.

Talk to audiences, not at them. Use a film acting technique and imagine you are speaking with one person, no matter the size of the audience. Retain a genuine voice by working off an outline, inserting your insights and “I” statements. Keep the tone warm and stave off the freeze.

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