In a recent Eloqui workshop, an attendee, we’ll call him Patrick, became overly excited each time he got up to speak. Nerves and stage fright drove him. As a result, he increased his speed and volume. This made Patrick difficult to understand and affected his ability to engage the audience.

Patrick reminded us of our days directing actors on film and stage. The condition he experienced is called linking, which refers to how emotion, speed and volume can fuel one another. Unless the performer can unlink and regain control, it’s like a runaway train. To offset this condition, under-play intense emotion, thereby slowing and quieting down. This technique is used to great effect by performers, especially in film acting.

As a speaker, when you’re in the moment, become aware of your volume, pacing and/or emotion. Then vary your delivery, adjust your speed, and tune your volume to the room. Audiences respond well to variety. And, as your palette of expressiveness expands, the tail no longer wags the dog. Having this tool makes speaking enjoyable and adds a dose of art to the mix.

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