Your Presentation Skills May Be Great, But What About the Sound of Your Speaking Voice?

I have belonged to a public speaking network for some time now and it never ceases to amaze me that the members do not talk about the actual sound of the speaking voice. From topics covering the value of content versus delivery to the elimination of nervousness and even ways to find speaking engagements, they never discuss the image of the voice and what it says about them.

If your delivery is dynamic but your diction is hard to understand, then it really doesn’t matter how great your presentation skills because your audience is left unable to receive your message. Perhaps you speak too softly and they cannot hear you comfortably. On the other hand, maybe you are too loud and your sound being amplified by a speaker is painful to your listeners’ ears.

Your voice may be excessively nasal, whiny, shrill, wimpy, young-sounding, old-sounding, hoarse, gravelly, quivering, or just plain unattractive. What do you think any one of those characteristics would say about you? As a public speaker, your voice is the vehicle for your words. If you take courses in and read articles about presentation skills, would you not want to do something about your vocal image – that which is transporting your message? (By the way, I’m talking about the voice you hear on your answering machine, not the one you hear in your head!)

What is fascinating is that we all have a better voice inside, we’re just not aware of it. It is richer, warmer, deeper in pitch, resonant, and has the ability to be projected without shouting. In addition, your ‘real’ voice – versus your habitual one – can last for greater lengths of time without doing damage to your throat and vocal folds (cords). This is known as vocal abuse and is common among politicians and public speakers. Hilary Clinton and Anthony Robbins are two very good examples of vocal abuse. The latter’s voice has deteriorated to such a degree that he needs steroids in order to speak for great lengths of time. That should never have happened.

Voice training is something all public speakers should consider because the voice is truly the fundamental, the building block. Everything else is the icing on the cake. Without a voice, there is no public speaking. Without the cake, the icing really doesn’t matter.

I discovered my real voice many years ago and it is only improving with age. It’s a marvelous feeling to have total control over your voice no matter what the situation. What image is your voice projecting?

Presentations: 14 Ways to Make Them Interesting

 They’ve come to hear you speak. Their time, like yours is precious. There were many other things they could have been doing. Instead, they chose to attend your presentation. In reality, they’ve entrusted you with their time – a precious gift. You therefore owe it to your audience to make it interesting, and to give them the stuff they came to hear.

So how do you grab your audience by the scruff of their necks right from the start and keep them riveted to your message through to the finish? You certainly need to attend to a lot more than just your content. You need to be purposeful in your preparation. By asking yourself these 14 key questions, at preparation stage, you will set yourself up for a presentation that is sure to keep them riveted:

1. Why did they come? They came to receive value specifically related to the topic you were billed to speak or present on. As a result of what you say, the best result for everyone is that something should happen. If nothing happens as a result of your presentation, then why did you bother? Be absolutely clear about your central message.

2. What did they come to hear? Whether it was the talk title, topic or product they came to hear about – that’s what you should give them. Not a whole lot of other stuff. The other stuff we mistake for value add is merely clutter. Go deep into the stuff they came to hear. 85% or more of your content should be only that.

3. How will they remember what I said? If you can link specific concepts or points to real life scenarios or stories, your point is more likely to be memorable. After 24 hours most people will only remember 1 or 2 key points anyway. Link your stories to those key points, and make sure that they remember the important stuff.

4. Is structure important? The structure of your content is more than important – it’s vital! Start by telling them what you’re going to be speaking about – it’s called setting up the topic. That way, they know they’re at the right place! Maintain a thread of logical order throughout your presentation so that it makes sense and is easy to follow. Wrap up neatly at the end. If you’re going to allow a question time, before the wrap up is the time for it. If you have the opportunity to record your rehearsal, play it back to ascertain whether the flow works. If you’re not sure, ask someone else’s opinion.

5. Are last minute changes advisable? Introducing a snippit of current news or up to date information immediately grabs people’s attention and can be a great addition to your presentation. Up to date information can be added a day or 2 before, and a news snippet can be added on the day. But avoid making far reaching changes a few hours before. You may confuse yourself completely!

6. Must I use humour? Light heartedness is preferable to a string of pre-planned jokes which can fall flat if not delivered properly. Humour gets people into a receptive mood and engages them – and spontaneous humour is easily the most effective. It is therefore important to get yourself into a relaxed, up-beat state of mind prior to your presentation.

7. Should I interact with the audience? Audience interaction is on the increase as the Silent and Boomer generations give way to the X & Y generations now taking over the marketplace, social space and audiences. These younger generations now expect interaction. In the future speakers or presenters who fail to interact with their audiences will become largely obsolete and irrelevant. The most common way of interaction is via questions. The presenter can ask the audience questions or invite questions from the audience. Increasingly, presenters will get the audience to interact with props, electronic gadgets and even television screens. If you develop the ability to respond to reactions or chirps from the audience, you will heighten audience interest and engagement. This also indicates that you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself.

8. Do I bang on too much? Waffling on and pontificating about the same thing is the quickest way to shift audience attention to the nearest mobile device within reach. Keep your points crisp, illustrate using stories or examples, then move on. It’s far more powerful to return to a key point to re-emphasize, several times if warranted, rather than going on continuously.

9. What kind of language do I use? In order to reach as many audience members as possible, simple is always the best. Except in rare cases, the vast majority of audience members use a vocabulary of less than 1500 words and simply won’t understand words outside of that range. It follows that too many “big” words will result in you losing that person completely. It’s important to note that the possibility exists that that was the very person you most wanted to influence!

10. What techniques can I use? My friend and fellow author Alan Stevens refers to the “rule of three” which creates a strong impact. For example you may say “regardless of wind, rain or blizzard, we will deliver on time”. In a political context, try this. “They have no clothes, they have no food, nor do they have shelter, but they are our countrymen and it is our duty to help them.” You can always slip one of those in somewhere. Another one is the technique of anaphora, where one repeats a phrase in a speech. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” is a great example of this.

11. Is tone of voice important? People may be attracted to attend a presentation to learn, but once they’re there, they also like to be entertained and informed. A warm, friendly, conversational tone will keep them engaged far better than preaching. Listen to a recording of your speech to help eliminate voice tone problems such as monotony or speaking too fast.

12. What about the visual aspect? A person can only focus their eyes on one place at a time. Preferably, that should be on you. Slide shows, unless used professionally and sparingly can be distracting and cause confusion. When planning your presentation be absolutely sure where you want the audience to be looking at any given time. Keeping them looking where they should be looking makes the presentation much more interesting for them. If various people are looking at different things at the same time, you have not got their focused attention. Distraction is therefore a major reason for presentation disconnect.

13. If I smile frequently will I be taken seriously? Paradoxically, yes you will! Friendliness makes you appear more charismatic and authentic and ensure that people warm to you. The smile is the big persuasion tool that wins over your audience. Use it lavishly, but at the appropriate times. Your default expression should be one of warmth.

14. Where should I be looking? You should not be looking at slides, the carpet, your shoes or the ceiling. Making eye contact with your audience creates a strong connection and makes your presentation much more engaging – and interesting. For a larger audience, looking at sections of the audience will do the trick.

There’s just one more thing, of course. You need to go through it a few times beforehand. That’s the bit we usually forget. Preparation without rehearsal is like an unserviced vehicle – it just doesn’t go very well. You only need a few failures for your confidence to plummet, so don’t do that to yourself. Make the time to rehearse. That means your other prep should be completed well in advance.

There is nothing like a well planned, riveting presentation to ensure that you get the result you planned.

How to Improve Your Medical Facility for Your Patients

If you’ve been looking for viable upgrades to improve your patients’ experience and recovery in your medical facility, then you came to the right place. A hospital facility is a special building, so it makes sense why many hospital owners or managers find it difficult to find effective upgrades that don’t require an immense amount of planning or finances. Lucky for you, there are relatively simple and inexpensive upgrades you can make in your facility to boost service delivery. They include the following:

Improve the ambience in the patients’ rooms
Hospital rooms dedicated to patients tend to be small and dull. It’s not uncommon to find gray or green walls, and poor lighting in the rooms, and that’s why many people don’t like being in medical facilities. There’s nothing wrong with upgrading your hospital rooms to resemble the comfortable hotel rooms. You can have walls that incorporate soothing colors, add pictures depicting beautiful nature scenes, and increase the space for your patients’ visitors. Such simple improvements are enough to boost the mood, satisfaction and happiness in your patients, and encourage the presence of your patients’ support network. You can also include a window to allow your patients to view nature and receive more sunlight. According to a Psychosomatic Medicine study that was conducted in 2005, patients who receive more sunlight require fewer painkillers, reducing the medical costs by 21%.

Improve your surgical lighting
You should also make lighting upgrades in your surgical rooms to improve visibility for your surgeons; doing so can boost their efficiency. If you’ve not attained the right hospital lighting standards in your facility, your surgeons can make mistakes that may put your patients’ lives at risk. Moreover, the medical officers are likely to be less productive in poorly lit environments due to eye and neck strain, and the resulting fatigue. You should therefore invest in lighting systems that strike a good balance between shadow dilution, brightness, volume and temperature to optimize visibility.

Invest in big data
One of the best ways of improving patient outcomes in your medical facility is investing in a method that reduces the risk of human error. With neural networks, you can improve your diagnostic process by analyzing a wide range of data. As you know, data is a great way to predict the course of various diseases; it can assist your medical professionals reduce the patients’ likelihood of developing fresh complications. You can also use data strategically to streamline your workflows. For instance, you can boost your operating room schedule by analyzing your hospital records, making your team members more productive.

Reduce the noise
Medical facilities tend to be noisy due to things like overhead paging, staff discussions and nighttime vitals checks. According to research, noise in hospitals can increase a patient’s anxiety, disrupt their sleep, affect pain management and lead to blood pressure spikes. In most medical facilities, the acoustics rarely reduce the noise effectively; luckily, there are easy ways to quiet the building. You can install sound-absorbing tiles and retrofit older environments within the building for minimal noise. What’s more, you can educate your staff on the importance of quietness in boosting patient comfort, healing and satisfaction.

Moreover, you can check your electronic devices, like monitors and alarm systems, and ensure that they’re not a source of noise and stress to your patients. If you have to, replace your devices with quieter ones. Of course, avoid scheduling housekeeping, maintenance or other operations in the evening hours.

Establish private rooms
You can increase your patients’ recovery by providing them access to private rooms. This relatively simple intervention can assist reduce your patients’ stress and comfort, make it easy for them to sleep and recover. One Canadian study found that each roommate a patient gets increases their chances of getting a superbug by 10%. Remember that privacy and dignity are important factors to patients too. For instance, having a private room can encourage the presence of your patients’ loved ones, leading to more comfort, less stress and better patient satisfaction.

Conclusion
If you are thinking of improving your medical care, you should implement the techniques discussed above to increase your chances of success. In summary, improve the ambience in the patients’ rooms, boost your surgical lighting, invest in big data, reduce the noise and try to ensure your patients access private rooms. All these methods can improve employee and patient satisfaction tremendously.