TED Talk Tuesday – How to speak so that people want to listen: Julian Treasure

Hey there!, Today let’s talk about speaking! I guess this is like metacognition, but for your speech? This may seem a bit out there, however, when we the last time you spoke with someone and you needed them to be engaged and excited about the information you were providing? I don’t know about you, but for me, that is often, whether I am working with clients, coworker, customers, friends or family, I want to be understood and heard. I think we all do.

Sometimes, I notice the glossy look in some people; when I see that I know I have lost their attention. Sometimes it is because I am going too far into the weeds on a topic, although it could also be that I have lost them with how I have conveyed the message as well. In this TED Talk, we will be finding out a way to help us connect and engage with people from what we say, to how we say it.

How we verbalize our thought is more important than the message we are giving. Think back to the last time someone set you off by their tone, they may have been asking a question that you took the wrong way because it sounded accusatory.

Before I get into the talk let’s find out a little more about our speaker, Julian Treasure. He “is a sound and communication expert. He travels the world training people to listen better and create healthier sound. He is the author of the books How to be Heard and Sound Business.[1]” He also has four other TED Talks we will most likely be talking about in the future. He is a fascinating man with some pretty awesome insight.

Now it’s time for me to stop gabbing and let’s get onto my notes on his talk:

  • The human voice: It’s the instrument we all play. It’s the most powerful sound in the world, probably. It’s the only one that can start a war or say “I love you.”
  • How can we speak powerfully to make change in the world?
  • I’ve assembled for your pleasure here seven deadly sins of speaking… these seven, I think, are pretty large habits that we can all fall into.
    1. First, gossip. Speaking ill of somebody who’s not present.
    2. Second, judging… it’s very hard to listen to somebody if you know that you’re being judged…
    3. Third, negativity…
    4. Another form of negativity, complaining… complaining is viral misery. It’s not spreading sunshine and lightness in the world.
    5. Excuses… Some people have a blamethrower. They just pass it on to everybody else and don’t take responsibility for their actions…
    6. Penultimate, the sixth of the seven, embroidery, exaggeration. It demeans our language, actually, sometimes… And then, of course, this exaggeration becomes lying, and we don’t want to listen to people we know are lying to us.
    7. And finally, dogmatism. The confusion of facts with opinions. When those two things get conflated, you’re listening into the wind. You know, somebody is bombarding you with their opinions as if they were true.
  • These are things I think we need to avoid. But is there a positive way to think about this? Yes, there is. I’d like to suggest that there are four really powerful cornerstones, foundations, that we can stand on if we want our speech to be powerful and to make change in the world.
  • Fortunately, these things spell a word. The word is “hail,”
    • it has a great definition as well… to greet or acclaim enthusiastically, which is how I think our words will be received if we stand on these four things.
      • The H, honesty, of course, being true in what you say, being straight and clear.
      • The A is authenticity, just being yourself. A friend of mine described it as standing in your own truth…
      • The I is integrity, being your word, actually doing what you say, and being somebody people can trust.
      • The L is love. I don’t mean romantic love, but I do mean wishing people well, for two reasons.
        • … absolute honesty may not be what we want… Tempered with love, of course, honesty is a great thing.
        • also, if you’re really wishing somebody well, it’s very hard to judge them at the same time.
  • it is what you say, it’s also the way that you say it.
  • Register… I’m not going to get very technical about this for any of you who are voice coaches.
    • So if I talk up here in my nose, you can hear the difference.
    • If I go down here in my throat, which is where most of us speak from most of the time.
    • if you want weight, you need to go down here to the chest… we associate depth with power and with authority.
  • Timbre.
    • It’s the way your voice feels.
    • …research shows that we prefer voices which are rich, smooth, warm, like hot chocolate.
    • there are amazing things you can do with breathing, with posture, and with exercises to improve the timbre of your voice.
  • Then prosody.
    • This is the sing-song, the meta-language that we use in order to impart meaning. It’s root one for meaning in conversation.
    • if they don’t have any prosody at all. That’s where the word “monotonic” comes from, or monotonous, monotone.
    • we have repetitive prosody now coming in, where every sentence ends as if it were a question when it’s actually not a question, it’s a statement?
  • Pace.
    • I can get very excited by saying something really quickly…
    • I can slow right down to emphasize
    • … silence. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of silence in a talk, is there? We don’t have to fill it with ums and ahs. It can be very powerful.
  • Pitch.
    • Where did you leave my keys? (Higher pitch) Where did you leave my keys? So, slightly different meaning in those two deliveries.
  • volume.
    • (Spoken loud) I can get really excited by using volume. Sorry about that, if I startled anybody. (Spoken quiet)Or, I can have you really pay attention by getting very quiet.
    • Some people broadcast the whole time. Try not to do that. That’s called sodcasting, imposing your sound on people around you carelessly and inconsiderately.
  • Warm up your voice.
    • Actually, let me show you how to do that. Would you all like to stand up for a moment?
    • Any time you’re going to talk to anybody important, do these.
      • First, arms up, deep breath in, and sigh out, ahhhhh, like that. One more time. Ahhhh… (each exhale bring arms down)
      • Now we’re going to warm up our lips, and we’re going to go Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba.
      • And now, brrrrrrrrrr, just like when you were a kid. Brrrr.
      • We’re going to do the tongue next with exaggerated la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
      • then, roll an R. Rrrrrrr.
      • Finally, and if I can only do one, the pros call this the siren. It’s really good. It starts with “we” and goes to “aw.” The “we” is high, the “aw” is low. So you go, weeeaawww, weeeaawww.
  • Now let me just put this in context to close. This is a serious point here.
    • We speak not very well to people who simply aren’t listening in an environment that’s all about noise and bad acoustics.
    • What would the world be like if we were speaking powerfully to people who were listening consciously in environments which were actually fit for purpose?
    • what would the world be like if we were creating sound consciously and consuming sound consciously and designing all our environments consciously for sound? That would be a world that does sound beautiful, and one where understanding would be the norm, and that is an idea worth spreading.

This was a fascinating talk. I really liked how he gave actionable tip about what to and not to say, as well as some tools about sounding better. I am totally going to try and incorporate these skilling into my daily communications.

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