To Be a Leader, Talk Like One

To Be a Leader, Talk Like One

The five essentials you should use when speaking in business situations — straight from the mouth of a pro. Listen and learn

By Carmine Gallo

One of the qualities that all great speakers have is the ability to electrify their listeners simply by the way they use their voices. They have an engaging vocal quality — a quality that you can master for your own professional business communications. In this audio slide show, I've outlined what I consider the five key qualities of dynamic vocal delivery. As examples, I've chosen excerpts from John F. Kennedy's inspirational "Man on the Moon" speech delivered at Rice University in September, 1962. I read each excerpt two different ways, so that you can hear the difference between static vocal delivery and dynamic vocal delivery.

Excerpt: "We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a state noted for strength, and we stand in need of all three, for we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds."

First Key: Vary Your Tone. Dynamic speakers vary the pitch and tone of their words. Dull speakers are monotone, reciting all words in the very same tone of voice.

Excerpt: "Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world has ever known are alive and working today, despite the fact that this nation's own scientific manpower is doubling every 12 years in a rate of growth more than three times that of our population as a whole, despite that, the vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective comprehension."

Second Key: Punch Key Words. Dynamic speakers punch the important words in every sentence to add emphasis.

Excerpt: "So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this state of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward — and so will space."

Third Key: Raise and Lower Your Volume. Dynamic speakers raise and lower the volume of voice during a talk, something Kennedy did in his speech that I've used as an example.

Excerpt: "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."

Fourth key: Pause for Impact. Dynamic speakers know that nothing is as dramatic as a well-placed pause.

Excerpt: "Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, 'Because it is there.' Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked."

Fifth Key: Vary Your Speed. Finally, dynamic speakers speed up and slow down, often in the same sentence or paragraph.

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