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Posted 1100 Days Ago in: Coaching ArticlesCategoriesTagsSearch
'Connect and deliver' could sound like a tagline for a supermarket home service, but it's actually the core trigger message to engage body, breath and focus before any sort of public speaking. We all know about knees knocking, dry mouth and blank mind as effects of the onrush of adrenaline when faced with a crowd listening to.... just us!
“Connect and deliver” could sound like a tagline for a supermarket home service! But it’s actually the core trigger message to engage body, breath and focus before any sort of public speaking. We all know about knees knocking, dry mouth and blank mind as effects of the onrush of adrenaline when faced with a crowd listening to.... just us!
Overcoming the fear of addressing a large audience, managing focus and flow of ideas, controlling pitch, pacing of our voice and holding sheets of paper without them rustling like leaves in the wind. These are the challenges we face, which can demand a plethora of presentation skills.
“Connect and deliver” is a technique I’ve used for 25 years, teaching vocal control as part of a programme of public speaking skills.
I’d like to share the learning in this article and show you how I’ve very successfully applied it to my coaching career.
It starts with a 5-point plan:
1 – Posture
2 – Breathing
3 – Articulation
4 – Mental prep
5 – Go for it!
Creating good physical/mental preparation habits is the answer to speedy execution in any field, be it sport, music making, parenting, even DIY. But persevering with our start up/warm up routine, when we think there’s no time to do anything but read our text for the umpteenth time, is hard to be convinced about, but as we all know, it’s the answer to success.
Correct posture for vocal delivery depends on balance, stability and support. So connecting with your centre of gravity and aligning knees, hips and shoulders is crucial, as every yoga buff will tell you. Tension builds slowly and unsuspectingly in the neck if we’re unbalanced or off-centre and can cause discomfort and pain. But more importantly for vocal delivery, where there’s a protruding chin, tension in the neck muscles or hunched shoulders, this can put pressure on the voice box or larynx and result in forced vocal production and eventually voice loss.
Holding iPads or clip boards, awkward twisting of torso or over-extension of the vertebrae can put extra pressure on the body just when it needs to preserve all the energy it can to deliver effectively.
Deep breathing is not just for the Pilates mat, we need to develop an awareness of the diaphragm and focus on an effective method of inhalation. This is where the lower abdominal muscles are released for the in-breath, allowing the diaphragm to depress and the lungs to fill to their capacity. This gives us more breath to use to speak clearly with and facilitates an even, controlled tone. Shallow breathing, expanding the chest and upper rib cage instead of the belly rising and lowering, is not only an inefficient way of breathing, it actually empties too much carbon dioxide out of our blood and upsets our body’s balance of gases and can cause light headedness and even more anxiety.
Engaging the diaphragm to control the out-breath is called connection: the breath is supported, so as it passes up through the wind pipe, through the vocal cords it has enough energy to resonate in the pharynx and mouth cavity and still sail out and continue its journey to the back of the conference hall for all to hear. With breath control we can give better colour and resonance to our tone of voice, modulating the pace and pitch, making it fuller and richer as opposed to the squeaks and squawks that can come out of we don’t measure our breathing.
The real trick to good projection and better delivery lies on how we spit our words out. This is called articulation – try saying that word slowly and exaggeratedly, well, that’s how much our mouth can move in different directions. At school we used to call our speech and drama lessons ‘spit and dribble’, but the technique of using tongue, teeth, lips and jaw is technically not about how much saliva you generate but rather how quickly you can coordinate those tools for the mechanical action of producing plosives (ch, k, t, p) and roomy vowels (aahh, oooh, eeh, etc) on a well controlled exhalation. Try saying “the tip of the tongue at the back of the teeth” five times as quick as you can, using your tongue not your lower lip on all 5 ‘th’s.
If you can connect to your breathing when you deliver your words you’ll get the message across loud and clear.
The ‘message’ is as much the content and meaning of what you want to say as it is the energy and projection you can deliver it with. For this you need mental prep: techniques to ‘hear’ what you’re saying before you say it, learning to take time to pause (seems obvious, doesn’t it, but mindfulness is changing the way we perceive time and speed), being aware of what’s coming up a few seconds in anticipation. Then just go for it! Believe in your message, fill the space with your presence, not to draw people to you but to what you’re saying, and that’s MUCH trickier than it sounds. I think the most important of all Covey’s habits is his 8th Habit: finding your voice and inspiring others to find theirs. Delivery is about communication, giving something of yourself to those who are listening and this requires attentive, open and intuitive connection with who you are and what you want to give to others.
“Connect and Deliver” not only supports clients in their presentation skills, it opens up possibilities for confidence building, strengthening the dynamic interplay between external communication tools (breathing, pitch control, diction) and our inner voice (authenticity, conviction, meaning). It builds on clear, proven skills to empower the client to believe that what they’re physically doing in public speaking is correct and therefore will carry them across the emotional suspension bridge vocal delivery can often feel like. By raising awareness of the physical tools and techniques needed to produce the voice we can increase the connection and delivery to reach a new level in presentation and audience engagement.
Alexandra Loewe is a trained vocal coach and uses her expertise in breathing and projection to support her coaching clients with her "Connect & Deliver" method to build confidence and gain mastery in public speaking and presentation skills.
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Tags:presentation skills pilates breathe coaching public address vocal coach
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