What’s the Story?
By Contributing Bloggers and Babson College Speech Consultants: Rick Sherburne, Betsy Komjathy and Sharon Sinnott
The Babson College Speech Center assists with communication coaching for the Babson community. Our consultants help to create effective, individual and team presentations, venture pitches, and assists with interpersonal interview prep. We have worked with thousands of students who have become very successful presenters. Some have become commencement speakers, others have won cash prizes for their venture pitches, and some have even ended up on Shark Tank. There are two common features that these presenters use to make messages noteworthy. They are able to craft a story that emotionally connects with an audience and they deliver with strong vocal expression.
Many presenters simply ‘data dump’ information. They state facts and data that are not well connected. The real challenge is to take this basic information to create and deliver a memorable, persuasive story that people will connect to and have a lasting impression.
Babson College Speech Consultant, Betsy Komjathy suggests the following story-telling structure: set the scene; describe the obstacle, challenge or difficult decision; bring to life the pivotal moment; discuss the outcome/resolution; and share what you learned, including why it matters to your listeners.
This structure may also be used when giving your personal story on an interview. When the famous question “tell me about yourself’ is asked, think beyond the resume data. Think in terms of who you are and what has brought you to your current state of accomplishment. Summarize the resume data in terms of the overall journey, challenges, and resolutions you implemented. Then share what you learned and why it is relevant.
Once you know what you want to say, you need to consider how to bring it to life. That’s delivery! Speech Consultant Rick Sherburne describes successful delivery this way – “The key to good delivery is to animate your message with positive energy. Just like an athlete, a good speaker begins with a strong ‘ready’ position, focuses their eyes on individuals in the audience, and energizes their body and voice in a way which fills their story with the same sense of enthusiasm that they feel on the inside.” If this is accomplished, they will avoid negative forms of energy in the body, i.e., needless swaying, pacing or fidgeting.
By concentrating on the message, they’re less likely to fall prey to negative vocal characteristics as well such as vocal fry (poor breath control), using fillers (uhms, ers, “like”) and upspeak (inflection where everything sounds like a question). It’s not easy. But all of this can be accomplished with practice and a willingness to try new things. To make an appointment at the Speech Center go to Babsonspeech.as.me and follow us on Twitter at @babsonspeech.