I have been coaching a 15 year old, gifted and talented student from a prestigious Sydney private school over the past few weeks who has been moved out of the A-level debating team to the B team.
He’s devastated. Literally …
His intellect is next level. His idea’s are brilliant, arguments strong and use of language sophisticated. However, even with all of that going on for him, he falls down – ever so slightly – in his delivery. And that slip up was enough to cause the fall from grace.
Put simply, he rushes. Each word slides into the next like moves in a salsa dance. Nothing stands out and every word is delivered the same – same speed, same tempo, same energy. Of course there’s little obvious vocal punctuation, he is in too much of a hurry. As a result, to me, the audience, nothing grabs me. I can’t hold onto anything that will take me on an intellectual sabbatical to a new place… and convince me that my thinking up until that point has been skewed or flawed. Isn’t that the purpose of debating? My brain is scrambled, unable to absorb these new concepts as quickly as they are dished out to me. I have no time to reflect on what he has just said because of how quickly he is travelling, so they are wasted on me. Those wonderful arguments and perspectives are without power as I am stuck back at the start deciphering the introduction.
Phew. How exhausting! I am left feeling rattled. That shouldn’t be the impact a speaker has on their audience but it is the result of rushed speaking.
Time is everything in debating. Every mili second counts. It is understandable why a debater may feel inclined to rush, however the risk is to squash your message into verbal oblivion, and lose the power you set out to achieve. No argument has ever been won on minced words, muffled sound or bland delivery.
Every word has energy. Not all words are created equal. Some are contextual others are filler words and others form the crux of the message. There are also power words too. Therefore, they should not all be delivered the same. Each word needs to be delivered in its own right, for the absolute purpose it is in the text. Otherwise, why is it there? Words are not to be glossed or slid over, otherwise meaning dissolves, impact diminished and arguments are lost. Some words need to POP, others need to slide in quietly whilst the rest can be delivered in your standard speak. If nothing pops or slides, and everything is standard, then how can you expect to stay in the A team?
Sam Buckingham is a Public Speaking Coach, Speaker Trainer and TV Presenter. She works with companies, groups and individuals to ensure they are on message, on brand and on fire when they present and deliver their message!
www.thesambuckingham.com – under construction, to be launched soon! Sam can be contacted on email@example.com
Sam has a FREE Confident Speaker video series for people wishing to develop greater confidence and finesse when speaking. Click HERE.