Friday, August 5, 2011

Vary Your Pace

About two miles east of the SquarePlanet worldwide megaplex is a stunning national home improvement store called Menards. I'm guessing it's about 50,000 sq feet of pristine merchandise that's well stocked and well priced.

In the middle of the store, occupying a rather large footprint, you'll encounter two mechanical people-mover ramps. You know the people movers at airports right? The bouncy, rubberized, moving walkways that have the same handrails as escalators? EXACTLY! Okay, just like that, but these are ramps that go up to and down from the second level.

So, last week I'm at Menards, and as I watch people standing perfectly stationary on moving ramps, I'm struck by how consistent their speed is. You see, those who chose to simply stand on the ramp were moving at the exact same speed throughout the duration of their journey to the second level. Yet those who chose to walk, even just a step or two, seemed vibrant, youthful--dare I say, alive!

The contrast between the pace of the ramp travelers reminded me of the musings you'll hear at one of our monthly Presentation Workshops. Contrast is the key to great communication. The idea is that contrast breaks up the norm, alerts the audience that something big is going on and everyone should pay attention.

Contrast in communications comes out in all kinds of forms, everything from word choice to the substance in the stories being told to the physical space of a presenter to the PACE with which a person speaks.

If you talk in a monotone, never-changing, no up, no down, flat as a pancake style voice, you have no variance in your pace. However, if you talk in bursts, use staccato, vary your intensity, speed and volume, you now have contrast in your pace. And people will notice. More importantly, they will listen.

So remember, to really be heard, vary your pace. To really be hurt, walk the wrong way on a people mover.

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