The Internet does not lack for tips on how to communicate. But when I came across this TED talk by Julian Treasure, a sound and communications expert, I really felt it was worth sharing.
Why? First of all, the title of the talk intrigued me: How to Talk So That People Will listen. Who doesn’t want to be heard? It’s a primal need of babies, octogenarians, and everyone in between! So the points made here really apply to more than public occasions; these are reminders for day-to-day living. And next, the habits Treasure refers to as “deadly sins” are mainly the activities your mother and teachers forbid you to engage in either at home or at school: gossip, judging, negativity, complaining, making excuses, exaggerating and being dogmatic. Seven deadly sins, mostly outlawed because they can be immediately turned against you the minute you use them, and sadly, many of these are so much a part of the fabric of our daily lives that we scarcely even notice we’re indulging. But we all do….
Treasure advocates instead remembering the acronym HAIL, by which he conveys that you should speak with honesty, authenticity, integrity and love. That last one? He points out that it’s hard to judge someone at the same time that you’re sincerely wishing them well.
He then enumerates the tools at your disposal using the instrument of your voice. One made me smile immediately. He called it “repetitive.” But you know the habit? When each sentence ends with a question? And your voice goes up? In fact, it’s also called “up talk”? Or even “Valley Girl Talk”? And unfortunately, it’s mostly associated with girls and women. I warn against this practice all the time, because I feel it is so damaging to the delivery of your message. Up Talk conveys both uncertainty and a lack of confidence. Ladies, CUT IT OUT!
Among the various tools he mentions, another that I’ve often spoken of as being so powerful: silence. Most speakers are deathly afraid of dead air, but in fact, a deliberate silence is a compelling way to rivet your audience’s attention and emphasize the importance of the point you’ve just made. Or are about to make. Don’t be afraid to try it.
The talk ends with compelling question: What would the world be like if we were all speaking powerfully and consuming sound consciously? Think about it for a moment. It would certainly be much less noisy…. And by noisy I mean strident, meaningless, clichéd, condescending —well, you know what I mean.