If you remember black and white TV, you are dating yourself. Perhaps even carbon-dating yourself. But I remember sitting in rapt attention when color TV came to town. Your audiences will do the same if you add some color to your presentations.
Color - in terms of presentations - is mostly about the voice. Humans have a remarkable sound system, but most people don't use 10 percent of their vocal ability. Vocal color is a guaranteed method of gaining - and holding - the attention of your audience.
There are four elements of voice you can control: breath, projection, vocal variety and diction. Let's look more closely at diction.
No matter where you were born, you can improve your diction without losing your regional charm. Think Dr. Ruth. Not accent-free diction, but she is understandable and memorable.
Here's an exercise that I learned early in my broadcast career that helped improve my diction, or the clarity of my speech. We were taught to spit out certain sounds, to create an explosion of sound. Practice emphasizing these letters the next time you prepare for a presentation:
B as in boy. C as in lurch. D as in need. G as in dig. J as in judge. K as in sack. P as in lap. And T as in boot. If you allow these sounds to erupt forth with a little extra force, you'll be sharpening your diction and adding color at the same time.
So, practice your diction and start moving from black and white to color.
Ty Boyd, CEO of Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems, is in the Broadcast Hall of Fame and the Speakers Hall of Fame. He has taught presentation skills to Fortune 1000 executives in more than 40 countries. His Excellence In Speaking Institute celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2005.