A New View of Texas

My son Benjy recently moved from San Diego to Houston, and he invited me to make the 3-day trek across Highway 10 with him.

I have to admit, I was really looking forward to it. Although we Skype nearly every week, there’s nothing like being together. So, I couldn’t wait.

The Open Texas Highway

Visual metaphors abound on the Texas landscape.

I knew we had a long trip ahead of us. 4 states in 3 days was a lot…especially when I realized nearly half that drive was going to be across west Texas.

Now although Benjy lived in Austin for 10 years, I honestly hadn’t seen a whole lot of this gigantic state. Growing up and watching a lot of westerns, I think I had assumed that we’d be in for hours of flat, monochromatic desert with the occasional cactus or tumbleweed.

So on the morning of Day 3, when we encountered miles and miles of dynamic rock formations, landscapes of varying shapes, and vibrant wild flowers periodically popping up along the center median, then on the shoulder, then the median…I went home realizing just how beautiful and memorable Texas really is. The variety kept me paying attention nearly the whole time, and I found myself anticipating what might be over the next horizon.

How This Relates To Presentation Skills

Go back and reread that last paragraph. You’ll realize that it wasn’t just the natural beauty of what I saw that kept my eyes open…it was the variety and unpredictability of what might come our way. The differently-sized hills and unevenly-placed flowers were a great metaphor for tonal variety and dynamic volume shifts.  The changing landscape can be tied to gestures and visual aids; both elements that help you better understand the point a presenter is trying to make.

Presentations are all about setting forth a point, then keeping your listener engaged with variety and dynamics in order to reinforce that point. In this case, the point was that Texas had a natural beauty that made an otherwise grueling drive (roughly 25 hours by the time we factored in rest stops and that needlessly long Dairy Queen drive-thru episode) a memorable and enjoyable trip with my son that I’ll always remember.

Presentation Skills In Your Daily Life

Think about how these kinds of elements — vocal and visual variety — happen in your own life. Pay attention to how the commercials are louder than the TV show. Or how your cat’s meows get higher pitched when she really wants attention (and how it works!) We are hardwired to receive these cues through our own eyes and ears.

Now think about how loudness, tone and timing (as well as visual aids) can factor into your presentations. Can you raise or lower your volume to draw attention to a point? How about adjusting your voice tone low to emphasize something, then back to normal? Find ways to use vocal and visual variety to punctuate your presentation to make it more memorable, and your listeners will be more engaged and remember and do what it is you tell them.

Ready to learn more about loudness, tone and timing? Get your copy of the Learn To Present Easy Guide To Great Presentations, a FREE guide on effective presentation skills and the foundation of the Learn To Present framework to giving exceptional presentations to any size audience. 

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