Articulation (Issue 1137)

In which we are reminded to speak so we can be easily understood.

We went to see a well-known singer-songwriter perform. He’s been around a long time. He’s recorded many songs. He’s written a couple of books. He has many New England fans and he’s played this particular venue more than a dozen times.

The room is … “intimate” would be the right show business term. It seats about 100 people at small tables. Every seat is a great seat. Tables at the back are only 40 feet from the stage.

We were sitting along the wall, stage right, maybe 15 feet from the man on stage and about six feet from one of the venue’s speaker cabinets. When he told stories, GREAT stories, between songs, I understood him perfectly. When he sang, I could distinguish less than a third of the words. Sometimes, none at all.

Sometimes, the amplified volume of his guitar overwhelmed his voice; while I could see he was singing, his voice might as well have been a kazoo played by another musician on stage. And, many times, he sang with an almost-closed mouth. I wasn’t expecting Broadway-style show-me-your-tonsils technique. On the other hand, it was like lip reading a fence rail.

The fans who showed up already familiar with his songs could “hear” the words in their heads or sing along because they already knew the words. For someone hearing them for the first time…. a loss.

“Well, then, you should have listened to his recordings before you went to the show!”

Yah, could ‘a done. But, whether we’re presenting or performing, many people are hearing us for the first time. Don’t cha think it would be our job to check our volumes and a-r-t-i-c-u-l-a-t-e well enough to ensure that they could fully grasp what we’re saying or singing…the first time?

Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees through better sales strategies and execution. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.




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