Archive for the exercises Category

Putting the Pitch into Your Pitch

Posted in exercises, public speaking, toastmasters with tags , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by pastajon

Have you ever sat through a boring presentation?

Of course we have.

A boring presentation, specifically one that uses a monotone voice tells us two terrible things: the speaker isn’t excited about their message and the speaker doesn’t care about his audience. Ouch!

But before we a too quick to cast judgement on others, have we ever been guilty of a boring presentation?

I know I have been.

As public speakers we must utilize inflection. Inflection utilizes several components: volume, rate, pause, pitch, and timbre (tone variation – think Bob Dylan -vs- Johnny Cash).  The hardest of these elements to utilize is pitch. There are three reasons why pitch is so hard to use: 1. fear often constricts our throats and makes it really hard to change the frequency of our voice, 2. we often mistake and substitute volume for pitch, and 3. we are often ignorant of our voice quality and pay it little mind.

Three ways to add pitch to our presentations:

1. Loosen up our throats.  A big ol’ yawn before going on stage is an easy way to open up our throats. It doesn’t hurt to loosen up like we would before an athletic event – roll our shoulders, roll our heads, jump up and down, etc.  Anything to stay loose can serve our throats.

2. Intentionality. We are unlikely to use pitch if we don’t plan to use it.

BIG SECRET HERE: find an interval in pitch (like twinkle, twinkle little star – do to sol in the eight note major scale) and start speaking on that higher note.  We will be surprised at how starting on a higher note will raise our awareness and use of pitch immediately!

3. Accept your voice and use inflection to make it sound even better. If we don’t like our voice we are more likely to ignore what we can do to make improvements. I used to cringe at listening to my voice on a recording, but every time I use inflection and start speaking at a higher pitch I am happy with the improvements I am making to my voice quality.


You Were Right About…

Posted in exercises with tags , , , on May 5, 2010 by pastajon

The other day my family was sitting at dinner.  We have a 12 and 14 year old.  Somehow we got talking about a fruit a friend from South America told us about.  This fruit is very delicious but you have to hold your nose to eat it because it smells like the feet of my 12 year old after a volleyball tournament.  Somebody wondered out loud about how that fruit was discovered.  How did someone get past the smell to discover the sweet?

Thus began an unplanned round of what I call “You were right, but you were wrong about…”.  We have never done this before as a family.  But with out prodding everyone freely dived in.

One of us came up with some crazy explanation for how the fruit was discovered.  Then someone offered a different explanation.  Then I started using the phrase “you were right about…, but you were wrong about…” as a segue into my new version of the story.  It turned into 20 minutes of entertaining story telling and stretching our imaginations.  It was fun to see everyone’s wheels start spinning as different story elements triggered their own ideas to share.

This serendipitous exercise proved to be a fun time to spend as a family and a way to learn and practice presentation skills without even being aware of it.

Give it a try some time and discover how much fun storytelling can be.