It’s funny when people ask what they should do to emphasize something in their speech or presentation. Seems like, depending on what it is they want to emphasize, they would know best. After all, it’s part of their content, it means something special to them, and it’s their goal or intention to call it out.
Even though I’m sometimes tempted to snark back, “well, how would YOU LIKE to emphasize it,” I usually offer a menu of options. Not surprisingly, the menu items all have a common ingredient: supersizing. Go big or go home. Whatever they choose to use, it’s got to be bigger, more, louder, better, stronger, or different.
Here are four supersizing options for you to consider using the next time you really want the room to hear it, get it, remember it:
Words. Choose special or unexpected words. Use a killer metaphor. Construct an especially brief sentence. Repeat the words. Repeat the words again. Make a rhyme. Use call and response with your audience.
Energy. Change the energy in your voice or your body. Get louder for a few seconds. Animate with your hands. Move across the floor or stage. Stop and stand still if you’ve been moving. Get on your toes. Move as close to the audience as you can. Throw some theatrics in (note: what feels “theatrical” to you will simply seem “energetic” to the audience).
Pauses. Create a few seconds of anticipation prior to what you want to emphasize. Leave a few seconds for marination following what you want to emphasize. Give your pause a drumroll – for example, “I’m going to pause here because what I have to say next is critical …”. Take a measured pause in. between. each. word. of. the. sentence. you are emphasizing.
Labels. Slap labels on your emphasized content. For example, “If there’s one thing I want you to remember,” “I cannot emphasize enough,” “This cannot be overstated.” Labels warn and wake. They guide and grab.
Help your audience out. Even the best of the best – those audience members who are paying attention – may not catch something you’re trying to emphasize unless you supersize it somehow. Audiences don’t know what you want them to know or remember unless you tell them!