Our family lived in Toronto for 9 years. For the first 6 months, I was so pleased when I would call someone and by the time that I finished saying “Hi so-and-so” they were already responding with “Hi Sharon”. Caller ID was not the vogue yet so I felt so special that they recognized me so quickly. How did you know it was me so fast?” I would ask. The answer was always “your accent”. “What accent, I sound just like you do” Hmmmmm
Two other times in my life I have been told that my speech is distinctive. The first significant time was also in Canada. On the launch team for a first of kind product in the country, it was an exciting time and one where my USA experience was often referenced. In one particular meeting with the SVP of the division, I was presenting my ideas on the qualitative and quantitative research strategies that I was responsible for spearheading. I was SO excited. My hands were moving, my lips were grinning ear to ear and I was excited to be telling the story and responding to the questions. At the end of the meeting, the SVP pulls me aside and says slowly and seriously:
- Your ideas are fabulous. You understand our objectives and have a great handle on how to approach the business
- Your energy is contagious
- However when you speak so quickly, I can barely keep up with you.
With a big grin on his face, he said: “If I am digesting the details to put your second suggestion into place and find myself coming out of this mind-set to hear you speaking about the fourth suggestion, we both loose. I am the big guy here. I cannot admit that I missed a step and need you to go back and explain something to me again. LOL. Seriously, please speak slowly. Make sure that I am with you every three-to-four sentences. In whatever way you must, get the input of the audience and the senior most member of your audience more often so that you know when best to move on to discussing the next suggestion. ”
I will never forget that moment and I do a pretty good job stopping myself whenever I find myself racing through a presentation that I find super exciting. Self: Speak slowly
The second time in my life that I have been told that my speech is distinctive took place a few weeks ago. My mind was racing and I was determined to have an uber-efficient day. With a pre-scheduled exploratory telephone call, I took the call ready to learn and to share. Some 6 minutes into the conversation, I was told” “Sharon, I know we have spoken at the …. Association meetings however I am having trouble placing your face right now.” In front of a computer, logged onto Linked in, I soon appeared on the screen of my colleague “Sharon, of course, I know you and remember you. Are you okay? You sound very tense. Did I say something to make you uncomfortable? When we spoke in person, your smile radiated energy and I was thrilled to speak with you. It is my pleasure to help you. Is everything okay with you today?”
Wow. I was shocked. There was a lot on my mind. And, one particular comment she made diverted my attention to how best to approach the particular challenge. This person did me a huge favor by telling me that my voice had betrayed me. Huge eye-opener!
I will never forget that moment. I am currently looking for a wonderful visual to keep on my desk that is guaranteed to make me laugh. Perhaps I will also use the long recognized mirror – on – my – desk trick, while further alternating between standing and sitting just to keep all senses active. Self: Deep breath. Speak in a manner that displays on-going confidence and enthusiasm.
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