Public Speaking Tip: Avoid the “Energetic Monotone”

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on October 24, 2011 – 6:32 am

When most people think of monotone speakers, they think of snore-inducing presenters who speak in never-ending drones. The word “monotone” usually evokes images of a flat speaker, someone akin to Ben Stein’s memorable teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 

But monotone doesn’t mean “flat.” According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, monotone means, “a succession of syllables, words, or sentences in one unvaried key or pitch.”

Boring speakers aren’t the only ones who suffer from monotone deliveries. Energetic speakers suffer from them too.

This speaker is at risk for the energetic monotone

Many of our trainees possess a wonderfully engaging energy when they speak. But too many of them fail to alter their vocal delivery much during their talks, leading to what I call an “energetic monotone.”

To be sure, an energetic monotone is better than a boring one. But monotone is monotone, and both kinds lead to audience fatigue.

So what should you do if you’re a naturally energetic speaker?

Think of your energy as being rated on a ten scale. If you tend to hover around an eight or a nine throughout most of your presentation, you can help emphasize key points by suddenly slowing down and dipping down to a five. Breaking the pattern will help regain the audience’s attention and will signal that you’re saying something important.

If you didn’t get the Ben Stein reference, the clip is below.

I tweet. Do you? If so, please follow me at @MrMediaTraining for daily tips to help you improve your presentations and media interviews.

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  • About Mr. Media Training

    The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media.

    Brad Phillips is the Founder and Managing Editor of the Mr. Media Training Blog. He is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC and DC.

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    Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.

    Brad tweets at @MrMediaTraining.

    Christina Mozaffari is the Senior Writer for the Mr. Media Training Blog. She is the Washington, D.C. vice president for Phillips Media Relations.

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    Before joining Phillips Media Relations in 2011, Christina worked as a journalist with NBC News, where she produced stories for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC Nightly News, and The Today Show.

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