Thursday, August 30, 2007

Your voice might be hoarse of course, of course … and other challenges

I once attended a presentation by Jean Vanier, who founded L’Arche, a worldwide movement to help people with developmental disabilities live in communities.

The audience included a number of challenged individuals. At times they would move about the room or speak out. One even started to cry. Their companions would attend to their needs, but neither Vanier nor the other speakers paid any mind.

It was a lesson not only on how we should accommodate people who are “different” but on how speakers should normally handle disturbances:

Ignore them.

This goes for people talking, cell phones ringing and other interruptions. As I said in an earlier post, if you are close enough to the microphone you’ll be able to speak over the disturbance.

If you feel the audience is getting too distracted, pause until the commotion ceases – or your host wakes up and takes care of it. But as a rule, don’t do anything that only draws more attention to a problem such as –

Your hoarse voice

No matter how congested you may be, never apologize for your voice. This only makes the audience more aware of it, maybe even uncomfortable.

Be sure to have water handy and take a sip as often as you need it. More importantly, make your prepared remarks succinct. You might say, "I want this to be a dialogue, so I'm going to leave plenty of time for questions." The idea is to speak in short intervals and give your voice some rest.

Also, have a soft handkerchief ready so you can not only sneeze but cough into it. You’ll find it’s quieter, more comfortable and more effective in clearing your throat.


No kidding: Free speech includes lap dancing, according to one judge. Any day now in some internet cafe we could be seeing laptop dancing!

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