• August 2014

Jetpacks and Communicators: The Future of Public Speaking

By Hilary Blair
Head ARTiculator and
lead coach,
and Robin A. Miller, PhD
COO/lead coach
Articulate Real & Clear: Clear Communication Is an Art, ARTiculateRC.com

The futuristic gadgets and modes of communication that we saw decades ago on Star Trek and The Jetsons are now here!

What hasn’t changed over time is that we still crave connection with other human beings. However, with so many technical innovations at our fingertips, the lag time between acceptable communication has become shorter and shorter. The pressure to keep up with the speed of our devices not only contributes to stress, it can diminish the clarity of our communication.

Here’s the challenge: We must be really clear—really quickly, and remain present, authentic, and approachable.

These are the questions to keep in mind: How do we adapt our communication skills to meet expectations? And how do we prepare for the inevitable changes ahead?

The solution: Make sure you are applying the following three big ideas.

1. Authenticity and ownership of your speech and its delivery

There’s that first buzzword: authenticity. Why is it so important? Because authenticity in communication, in public speaking, and in relationships means that you are making a connection.

Hopefully, you have been to an event where the keynote speaker was able to draw you in with the first word. And then he/she kept you engaged until the final phrase. This happens when someone is fully present, truthful, and vulnerable with the material, message, and themselves.

Surprisingly, it’s not only someone who knows you well that can tell when you aren’t being yourself, are covering something up, or are hiding the truth. Colleagues and clients can tell when you are off your game or not being your authentic self, and that can cause misunderstanding, miscommunication, and a lack of credibility.

Conversely, authenticity and accountability signal the intuitive part of our brain to respond positively to the speaker. This builds trust and keeps you looped in.

Tip: Be brave and vulnerable when you speak, and let your true connection to the audience flow with every breath.

2. Vocal vulnerability and agility

In this fast-paced world of ever-changing technology, connection—and disconnection—have a symbiotic relationship.

Consider teleconferences and webinars, which have created an environment where people from all over the world can share in a common experience at the same time. Conversely, all of those people are not always able to experience a speaker’s energy through these long-distance modes of communication. People can’t see a smile or experience a handshake.

To enable your personality, energy, and demeanor to translate properly, be sure to use clear, honest messaging. Also be aware that the tone of your voice will need attention in order to move the audience beyond the visual gap.

Tip: Learn to get out of the monotone mode, and avoid other vocal habits that keep you from harnessing your full range of expression of your vocal instrument.

3. Adaptability and improvisation

Who really knows what’s going to happen next? Since most of us can’t predict the future, we must remain adaptable to the constantly changing communication landscape. So if your presentation projector doesn’t work, or the video goes out at a videoconference, be ready to adapt and remain present.

Despite the progress that will continue to be made on the technical side, be thinking about how to make the human connection with your audience. In the future, common courtesies will be even more important since we will probably see each other only briefly. Today and in the future, we must be nimble and flexible and remain open to doing familiar things differently.

Tip: Take an improv class and get comfortable making quick decisions and saying “yes, and” and see where it goes!

ARTiculate: Real & Clear is committed to authentic, connected voice, and adaptable communication, now and into the future. Now, off to get our jetpacks.


About Hilary Blair

CEO and lead coach for Articulate: Real & Clear, Hilary Blair, MFA, with physiological guidance from Jennifer Spielman, MM, MA, CCC-SLP, is an admitted breath snob.

A presentation and speaking voice expert, Blair is a highly regarded coach and facilitator working extensively across the United States with businesses that include American Express, Janus Funds, Staples, Liberty Global, and Hunter Douglas. She uses her skills and experience as a stage, film, and voice-over actor, teacher, and voice coach to help people in a variety of positions, including entrepreneurs, CEOs, writers, and project managers.

Her coaching is informed by what is unique and authentic in the individual or group. In addition, she facilitates workshops that use improvisation to improve leadership skills, team-building, and creativity. She is on the faculty of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and has been adjunct faculty for a number of universities. An active member of Toastmasters and a board member of VASTA—the Voice and Speech Trainers Association—she holds an MFA in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory and a BA from Yale University.

About Robin A. Miller

Robin Miller is an energetic, motivational keynote speaker who has also spent more than 20 years in teaching, training, and coaching. Her specialty is in guiding the well-thought individual to become confidently well-spoken in settings such as interviews, meetings, and keynotes. Her clients include Coors, University of Denver, and Sterisil.

She has performed vocally and conducted numerous musical groups throughout her career, as well as taught music at Baylor University, The University of North Texas, and Texas Christian University. Her expertise in navigating customer communication derives from her experience as a customer relationship manager in the financial industry, and as a development specialist in some of Denver’s leading Level 1 trauma centers, as well as her advanced training in mediation and crucial conversations. She earned an MM in Music, a PhD from the University of North Texas in Musicology, and a Master of Divinity from Iliff School of Theology.

Blair and Miller acknowledge the amazing voice teachers with whom they have had the privilege of working: Chuck Jones, Rocco Dal Vera, Gary Logan, Patsy Rodenburg, Catherine Fitzmaurice, and Kristen Linklater, to name a few.

For more information, visit Articulate Real & Clear: Clear Communication Is an Art, at ArticulateRC.com