How to be a Better Speaker and Hit all the Right Notes: A Conversation with Elaine Clark – Part 1
“Most people speak with three different rhythms in a sentence. So if I’m not thinking about it, I have certain parts that are gonna be faster and other parts where maybe I’m thinking about, they’ll be slower, and then something in the middle. That’s what keeps our attention with that melody, that melodic change that’s happening there.” — Elaine Clark
My next guest is the author of two best-selling books, There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is and Voice-Overs For Podcasting, the creator of two voice and diction apps (Activate Your Voice and Adding Melody To Your Voice), and the host and creator of the speech communication podcast Real Talking Tips. She’s an actor, director, and producer in a wide range of entertainment and business genres, from video games to business events. Over the past forty years, she’s coached C-Suite executives, newscasters, television hosts, podcasters, multimedia journalists, presenters, sports reporters, salespeople, and narrators. She specializes in developing a “tune of speaking” through word focus, movement, dynamics, tempo variations, storytelling, and musicality.
Her name is Elaine Clark, and I’m looking forward to her perspective on how to be a better speaker. It’s not just for people on stage but people who have to make presentations, podcast hosts, and anyone who just wants others to pay more attention when they’re trying to get a point across. If you want to learn how to make a deeper impact with your voice, this is the podcast episode for you.
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The Musicality of Words
As the episode begins, we talk about Elaine’s early memories of sound and how the variety of accents she heard growing up in Louisiana, California, and Germany led to her lifelong fascination with the cadence and melody of speech. “So I thought,” she says, recalling all the different speech styles she encountered as a child, “‘oh, there’s the flowing and then there’s the staccato.’ So that was also what brought to mind the musicality of words.” We also talk about storytelling and how it became her guiding principle when it comes to voice direction. “It’s the theater of the mind. It’s just like podcasting,” Elaine says. “The way I work with people is, you see it first, you feel it, and then you speak.”
Solving a Problem
Our conversation focuses on storytelling and how Elaine uses it to guide the relationship between the speaker and listener. “Storytelling is a way of establishing authority,” she explains. “When we know where everything is located, when we know how we feel about the various people that we’re retelling the story about, people get into that story.” She tells us how she helps clients communicate with more confidence and to stay focused on the true purpose and value of public speaking. “The motivation is always about, you know, ‘why am I doing this?'” Elaine notes. “‘Why am I presenting this information to someone?’ It’s always to solve a problem. Otherwise, I wouldn’t need to speak.”
E is For Emotion
“E is for emotion,'” Elaine says, explaining the advantage stories have over raw numbers. “You have to have not only just logic but emotion too, and know where everything is located as part of your storytelling.” We talk about how crafting a narrative helps contextualize data and shares the speaker’s perspective with the listener. “I was working with someone at a company,” she tells us, “and he was the CFO, and he just wanted to give dollars and cents in his quarterly report. And I said, ‘but you’re not telling me, when you say your profit was $100 million, I don’t know whether you were expecting $500 million and that’s bad, or whether you were expecting 25 million and it’s a lot better.”
Where is Your Podcast?
As the first half of our discussion wraps up, Elaine tells us how a publisher’s idea for a podcasting book led to her very first podcast. “So then I had that book out, I’m thinking, ‘wow, this is great.’ Then the next question everyone asks is, ‘where is your podcast?’” She talks about the hands-on lessons she’s learned about running a podcast, and the habits that make for a successful show. “I like doing everything myself,” she adds, “because it’s part of the learning process. Doesn’t mean I’ll do it always myself in the future, but when I go through, then I know what the problems are.”
- The different accents and languages Elaine learned as a child
- How different languages have different rhythms and musical timing
- Using the natural cadence of speech to better deliver your message
- How Elaine helped a brilliant executive overcome his stuttering habit
- Whether technology’s making things more or less convenient
Stay tuned next week as we talk about the qualities of a compelling podcast host, how the world’s return to pre-pandemic normalcy has changed the podcasting industry, and Elaine’s advice on perfecting your voice, from the best microphones to the right voice exercises.
Connect with the Guest
VO & Podcasting Books and Apps: https://elaineclarkvo.com/shop/
Real Talking Tips Podcast: https://elaineclarkvo.com/podcast/
Demo Production: https://elaineclarkvo.com/voice-over-demo-production/
Coaching Services: https://elaineclarkvo.com/voice-over-coach/
Teaching & Speaking Events: https://elaineclarkvo.com/events/
Follow Elaine Clark on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElaineClarkApps/
Connect with Elaine Clark on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elaine-clark-9172671/
Follow Elaine Clark on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElaineClarkVO/
Connect with Elaine Clark on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elaineclark.vo/
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This interview episode was very skillfully made to sound beautiful by the talented Humberto Franco.