Here is the presentation tip of the day. When you speak to a live audience, in any setting, the first and most simple rule is this: speak so that your audience can hear, and understand, your words.
I teach speech at the community college level. I can’t tell you how many students will “trail off” at the end of their sentences. I can hear and understand them as they begin a thought, but not as they complete the thought.
So, yesterday, I was listening to Terry Gross (Fresh Air), and heard this wonderful interview with Peter Rowan of the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band (listen to the interview, which includes quite a bit of live music, here). Early in his career he played with the great Bill Monroe. Here’s an excerpt (from the transcript):
GROSS: What did he (Monroe) teach you about singing or about harmony or guitar?
Mr. ROWAN: Well, on the guitar he taught me to make the rhythm stroke a full stroke…to really bring the tone out of a guitar. And as far as vocalization, you know, he would insist that you virtually rub shoulders with him around the microphone and like rub your voices together like two pieces of wood and make a spark fly out of it, you know, that was -it was friction. And he always would say that bluegrass is about one person doing something really great then you’ve got to step in behind that person and then do something that you can do better. In other words, there was always a sense of competition and friction. He did say when to sing – to sing with a full breath and when you finish the line you should give the last syllable of the last word the same power that you gave the first syllable of the first word. (emphasis added).
“when you finish the line you should give the last syllable of the last word the same power that you gave the first syllable of the first word.” Finish strong. Finish your thought, your sentence, your paragraph, in strong voice – as strong as the voice you used to begin your thought. This is the presentation tip of the day!