Variety is the spice of life
So. Auditory learners and people in your audience are important. But it is important to understand that just because they are auditory learners does NOT mean they just want to listen to your regular voice all the time. Auditory learner’s primary vehicle is listening, but they need more than your voice.
We all have different voices
In public speaking we talk about minimal, optimal and maximal voice. You can check it out here in this article from Toastmasters.
This means we have a range of voice that goes from the most to the least and somewhere in between in terms of volume, pitch, and pace. Minimal voice is the quietest voice we can use in any given context so that people can still hear us. Maximal voice is the loudest or most voice we can use in any given context so that people can hear us. Optimal voice is where most speakers spend the most amount of their time. A great deal of speakers use this voice all of the time. Optimal voice is our normal, everyday, speaking and conversational voice, tone, pitch, and volume. It requires nothing other than talking normally. The problem is that it is so comfortable it can put your audience to sleep!
Auditory learners or listeners need variety. They learn primarily through listening but they do not learn primarily through listening to the same sound for extended periods of time. To most effectively engage your auditory learners and audience variety is the spice of life. Auditory learners need variety in tone, pitch, pace, and volume in order to stay engaged as a listener and learner. How does this work.
Get over yourself
Some speakers or presenters will use the defense that they are “not actors.” They will argue that authenticity requires that they be who they are and not try to be someone else. Communicators who are audience centered, and seeking excellence will not use this excuse. It does not require that you are an actor or that you try to be someone you are not. It requires that you thoughtfully and creatively prepare to engage as much of your auditory audience as possible. Here are some ways you can be authentic and still increase your effectiveness as a communicator. It is the difference between ordinary and extraordinary. There are a lot of ordinary communicators out there. You can choose to be extraordinary.
Just try it for a little while
Extraordinary communicators look for parts of their presentation or speech that allow them to vary the pitch , tone, volume, and pace of their voice. This means that if a speaker is telling a story about a child and a grandparent, instead of simply describing the conversation between the adult and the grandparent, the speaker or presenter takes on the tone, pitch, and volume of the two individuals. So for a sentence or two, the speaker sounds like a child. The speaker actually says, like a child, what the child said. And the speaker says, like a grandparent, what the grandparent said. This change up in tone, volume, and pace creates interest and causes a listener who might be distracted or whose attention is drifting, to come back. They hear something different and they are motivated to listen more carefully. This more dynamic use of voice can be used for thirty seconds or for five minutes. It depends on the context and the reason for using the different voices. In a forty-five minute presentation a communicator will use their optimal (normal conversational voice) most of the time. However, on two different occasion in the forty-five minute speech they plan and practice taking on a different voice in order to surprise and re-engage the audience.
I coached a pastor at one communication conference who was very reserved and monotone in his speaking. During one of his presentations he told the story of how he sat his two-year-old daughter on the vanity in the bathroom every morning and would have a contest with her. He would make a face and then she would have to match it. Then it was her turn. She had to make a face and he had to match it! What a fun game this was! And, in his presentation of this experience he was very animated and demonstrated a range of voice and pace, and tone that I had not seen before. Since I had only seen monotone and very reserved optimal voice from him, I asked him what made him express himself so much more dramatically with his daughter. After thinking for a minute he said, “I do this because I love her.” Wow! Because he was a pastor, I asked him, “Do you love your congregation?” (I knew he did.) The look on his face was priceless. It was an “aha” moment where he realized that he needed to take the same risks with his congregation that he was taking with his daughter. He needed to be willing to be use a wider range of voice in order to engage his congregation the same way he used a wider range of voice to engage his daughter.
You may not be a pastor and “love your audience.” But whatever your reason for getting up in front of a group, you must care about your audience no matter what your vocation is. You cannot successfully sell anything, you cannot successfully teach anything unless you have some sense that what you have to offer is something your audience needs or wants. This is another way of saying that you “love” your audience. You care about them. And so, you will do whatever it takes to engage them using a variety of auditory tools.
Extraordinary communicators will experiment
You can take on different voices. You can vary the pace of your presentation. When you are describing something very exciting you will talk more rapidly and with more intensity and with more volume—your maximal voice. But you will not maintain that. When it is time to challenge your audience to think carefully about what you are asking them to do (buy something, sign up for something, invest in something) you will speak more slowly and use your minimal voice. And in between these two options, you will default to your optimal voice—your normal way of speaking in everyday conversation.
There are other ways to engage auditory listeners. You can play a song, or project a sound. You can get very quiet forcing them to sit up and listen carefully. Or, you can shout, and shock them into paying attention. If focused on the intent of your message, both of these extremes can be very effective.
It requires risk
The consistent factor in all of these auditory devices is thoughtful and creative planning and practice. Once you know what your message is, your content, then you begin to explore the different ways that you can present this information in order to maximize its reception. In a well-organized and constructed speech or presentation you begin to ask, “How can I do this so that it catches their attention?” Then you ask someone you trust to help you develop this idea so that it is credible and you practice.
This requires risk. But the rewards are worth it. You do not have to become a different person. You just have to believe in your message or your product enough to creatively and thoughtfully imagine how you might capture the attention of your auditory learners. Remember, it’s not about you! The best way to be successful in whatever your message is, is to concentrate on your audience. Brainstorm, plan, and then practice parts of our presentation or speech that will cause your audience to sit up and ask, “What is he or she doing now?” In doing so, you will rise above ordinary and begin to develop extraordinary. This is where communication becomes life changing no matter what you are offering, teaching, or selling. Be extraordinary!
When have your been engaged by a speaker because you were surprised by a change in pace, tone, or volume? Tell us about it in the comments.