Talking is and will always be the go-to method of communication, especially in business. All hands calls are common, and phone calls are still the norm despite the increase in email and other text formats. Although people warned for years about the impending death of radio, the waves continue to roll. Audio books have consistently delivered. In fact, audio media has become more popular then ever with the advent of podcasts and streaming music services. Even YouTube is often more for audio than for video, as people stream content such as academic lectures or background study music. Audio formats include audio books, lectures, music, podcasts, radio, soundbites, and more.
Your followers are paying attention to what all these people are saying, so in order to compete you need to master audio. Talking should be easy, but there is more to the art than often expected. If you want to maintain a long career in a C-suite, here are a few tips about delivering the spoken word:
1. Good: Speak slowly.
You've heard it before: when speaking in public, go slower, be louder, and enunciate more than you think you should. It may sound odd to you, but it will sound much better to the audience. Remember that audio formats don't allow the audience to take advantage of reading your lips or interpreting your body language. Instead, all they have to determine your meaning are your words and intonations.
Great: Use a metronome.
When you're speaking on a podcast or some other audio format, get a metronome, or at least a metronome app for your phone. A metronome visually keeps a beat so you can track how fast you're speaking and stay consistent throughout your presentation. You can, and should, vary your speed somewhat depending on the context - for example, you may talk faster when telling the climax of an exciting story - but even then, you'll be speaking more slowly than you're used to. Use your metronome to practice, and have it with you on the day you deliver.
2. Good: Use inflection and varied language.
It can be downright awful listening to a monotonous speaker. They drone on, and you doze off, unable to maintain any focus on such a dry delivery. It's a lot harder to make your point when you don't have any character in your voice. So use inflection to highlight the most important information, and vary your sentence structure and word choice to keep listeners engaged.
Great: Your tone and emphasis help make your words come alive.
You can't read facial expressions or body language over audio, so you have to make all that context come from your voice. Now, make sure you don't overdo it - people can spot inauthenticity from a mile away. But genuine enthusiasm is infectious. You may be surprised at just how much can come across from your voice alone. Think about when someone says they can "hear a person smile." It's hard to quantify, but it's undeniable. It's a skill that can be practiced and improved, particularly if you seek out honest feedback.
3. Good: You deliver a message.
Speak with purpose. Otherwise, what's the point? Make sure that what you say brings value both to you and to your audience. Use the opportunity to win over clients - making value for yourself - by giving the audience something they didn't know they needed - giving value to them. It's ok to self-promote, as long as it's done in a context that is useful for the audience.
Great: Everything you say is on theme and can be related back to your main objective.
Plenty of people have podcasts that are an hour long. They can be fun and interesting, but they can also be self-indulgent. It's hard to come up with an hour of truly compelling content. Successful audio communicators know how to make and explain their point without belaboring it. They also know how to pull a random tangent back to the main theme they're trying to emphasize. They make connections from that particular content's objective to the main purpose and goal of their company.