Let’s call him Bill. He was up in years. Retired, he was a person who people catered to but now he was soliciting help in his many service projects. He wanted them to listen to him. But he mumbled, and spoke softly. In the past Bill got away with the mumbling because he was the boss. They had to listen. Now he wanted others to listen but there was no requirement. Bill asked me to help him with his communication skills.
I had him stand deep in the corner of the room and I stood in the opposite corner and told him to talk to me. He said I won’t be able to hear him. I asked ”So what will you need to do?”
Bill replied, “I’ll have to yell for you to hear me.”
“So yell,” I said.
Folks, we were making progress. Bill vocalized what he needed to do. Next was doing what was needed to do.
Bill started to speak up, but it wasn’t loud enough.
“Louder,” I encouraged.
He spoke louder, but not loud enough. What I wanted him to do was shout. Go past what he needed. Bill needed to understand what the extreme was, way past what he needed to do.
“How about this? Can you hear me now?” He proclaimed.
“Louder,” I shouted at him.
“How about this? I am screaming at the top of my lungs!”
“You’re getting closer,” I smiled because he was getting closer, “Just a little louder.”
I wanted Bill to experience the extreme, what it felt like to be extremely loud.
In addition to increasing volume some other things were happening. Bill’s posture improved. By trying to project his head was up, shoulders back. He stood taller and he was leaning forward. These are positive communication techniques, which are immediately improved by attempting to project, which Bill identified as getting louder. But in addition to louder, Bill was using better communication techniques and his pace improved. He was speaking slowly and separating his words. He was bringing energy!
Although we did not talk about it, the mumbling, throwing words together, went away because of the better techniques Bill was using as he spoke louder.
A key for Bill is to speak up. We started to use the ‘yelling’ practice to identify the skills needed to make Bill think louder, so that he would speak louder!
Not long after we started working together I was at a function with Bill and his family, which included grandchildren. His grandson told me how, for the first time, he was able to understand his grandfather when they visited. He said he talks louder and slower.
Bill was building for a speaking event. He had donated to a project with a Church organization and was being honored. Some heavyweights were there, the mayor, Archbishop, politicians, and many other distinguished guests. Bill gave his speech. He did a great job. He slowed down, enunciated, used great communication posture, head up, and shoulders back. He was great!
Bill called the other day. Said he spoke at a rotary. Members of the audience said they couldn’t hear him. I asked, “Did you project?” He said he forgot. Communication is something we need to practice all day, every day 24-7. We need to make great communication part of who we are, not what we do. Otherwise we forget. That’s just the ways it is. Speak up!