Yesterday was Melbourne Cup Day in Australia. For Australians it is the race that stops a nation. All over the country bets were being placed, hats dusted off and copious amounts of champagne were being drunk at lunches. As the start of the race nears, silence descends across the country as people prepare to watch and listen to the race. In some places it may only be listening to the race callers. They are off and in the space of 3 to 4 minutes it is all over for another year.

At the lunch I attended there was a very good race caller who treated us to a magnificent race call of a phantom Melbourne Cup as part of the entertainment. I sat there listening completely enthralled and caught up in the moment. I was excited and hanging on each clearly articulated word. As he finished and I finally took a breath I realised what a perfect demonstration we had just had of using your voice to connect with your audience. The caller had used a variety of vocal techniques to make an emotional connection with the audience. An hour later when the actual Melbourne Cup was run we had another great demonstration of using vocal variety to make an emotional connection.

What did these race callers do with their voice? What can you do with your voice to make a connection and add impact to that next important presentation, speech or telephone call?

Firstly, be aware of your pitch. Raising the pitch higher or lower adds light and shade to the voice. Just think if the caller had kept the pitch at one monotone level there would have been no excitement generated no hook to catch our attention –the voice would have been lost in the general babble of noise.

Secondly, use the rate of delivery to generate excitement or engender a sense of calm and thoughtfulness. The faster the rate the more excitement is generated, a slower rate engenders an atmosphere of calm and sense of peace, a time for reflection.

Thirdly, increased volume assists the air of excitement and passion, whilst lowering the volume brings the audience back down and allows them to reflect on your message.

Fourthly, the use of pause to engender suspense can be particularly useful when you are leading up to an important point in your presentation. In calling the race the caller used this particularly well just at the beginning. Just before those words… “and they’re off”.. there was a pause.. it caught our attention and we knew that the next words would be important. In your presentations practise the pause and see how effective such a small change can be to the impact you have on the audience.

Finally, you need excellent articulation, i.e. clearly pronouncing and enunciating your words. If your words are mumbled and the audience can’t understand you the other vocal techniques will not be as effective. If the race caller does not clearly articulate the horses names we are not going to be as interested in the race. After all we want to know where our horse is coming in the race.

You have probably heard of these techniques before – there is nothing new in what the callers did. The important issue is that they used them and used them effectively. In your presentations, remember that the voice is one method you can use to make an emotional connection with your audience. Practise the techniques mentioned above. The more you use them, the more effective you will be.

Facts and figures are great but to be an effective communicator you need to make that connection to sell your message.

I hope you had a successful Melbourne Cup yesterday.. I did and I enjoyed every minute of the race call as I listened to my horse getting closer, closer and closer to the finish line!!

Trish @ Trischel

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