Communicating the YOU behind the Research
Unlike many of you, my time spent in front of a Bunsen burner was not fun. My science teacher was always brimming with glee doling out instructions, all so we could experience heating up some substance in a beaker. The majority of the class mainly spent the time chatting away with their lab partners and playing with the flint burner lighter. Outside of recognizing an element from the overblown chart of the Periodic Table hanging on the wall, I don’t remember anything I learned in any of my science classes. It’s not that science was hard, or that it wasn’t interesting (maybe one day a year, the teacher lassoed our attention…I think it was that movie on sexual reproduction), the problem was science as it was presented to my high school mind, wasn’t relatable. As excited as my science teachers always were (in an unreal mad scientist kind of way) about the day’s lesson, they weren’t communicating to my peers and I a meaning of science in a way we could appreciate and value it.
"The a-ha moment doesn't mean that the listener gets it but that they get you."
When we stand before others to present whether it’s our colleagues, supervisors or potential investors, we become the medium of communicating an idea, thought or solution. It’s our responsibility to express it in a way that makes sense to our audience. The a-ha moment doesn’t mean the listener gets it but rather that they get you. Humans relate to other humans and what makes us connect to each other is not the facts but rather the fiction. I’m not speaking of fairytales but how we make meaning, which is through storytelling. That’s what every presenter and public speaker is, a storyteller. You are not presenting a made-up story to tickle your audience’s ears but one that allows your listeners to understand why this topic you’re presenting matters. Many see public speaking as a mishmash of eye contact, physical gestures and vocal projection. However, without your “why” effectively communicated, none of these techniques will have the desired impact.
I started this piece with a memory that mattered to me and one which you, the reader could emotionally relate to. Even if you were a science whiz, I’m sure there was an English or History class that flatlined your interest. Because I shared my experience, you now understand or “get me” on a deeper emotional level. Why? Because you can relate to the pain of needing to learn something that isn’t well taught or effectively communicated to you. A pain that turned into boredom, disinterest or even frustration. So you should understand that my “why” is the importance of relating through effective communication. Knowing YOUR “why” will make public speaking strategies like tone, pitch, pacing and inflection much more profound. Imagine what your audience’s listening experience would be like! This is the power of communicating which we call public speaking.
Demetria coaching on "How to Master Your Speaking Voice"
At the January Meetup, many of you completed surveys on public speaking. Your answers allowed the BQSP team and I to understand the challenges you struggle with most and want to conquer. We understand the vital importance of being able to communicate your research and relate why it matters to any audience. We believe that fostering an authentic connection with your listeners is key to effective presentations that yield positive results. If you haven’t completed the survey, take this opportunity to let your voice be heard and help us to understand how we can best help you communicate the YOU behind your work.
Demetria (second to the right) and Boston QSP Team at the 2019 Jan. BQSP event
Demetria Bridges is a Voiceprenuer and the founder of Vocal Connection Coaching. She teaches entrepreneurs, organizations and educational institutions how to connect authentically for presentations and public speaking. She has worked with Boston University, CCTV, The Boston Health Commission, ABCD, Boston Public Schools, BostonSpeaks and more. Demetria started as a voice actor and has branded media giants like WGBH, Foxwoods Casinos, The LA Times and a host of other companies. She is known as "The Voice With The Velvet Touch" and now uses the strategies she's honed as a voice actor to help others vocally connect with any audience.