Why Rhythm is Important in Your Presentations

In mid-July, I attended the Vancouver Folk Music Festival at Jericho Beach Park in Vancouver.  It was so wonderful to be back at the park after just having a few online concerts over the past few years.  What stood out for me this year was how much rhythm is part of the music.

My favourite groups were Vilda from Finland with a Sami yoik singer (first image) and Kanatal with 4 musicians from 4 different Indigenous groups on Taiwan (second image). Both had the audience singing along which was so much fun and both had a great sense of rhythm.

I always knew that rhythm was a big part of why I love music so much.

I hadn’t thought about rhythm in the words you choose for a presentation until I saw a Toastmasters article entitled “Create rhythm in your speeches for easier memorization and delivery” by Bill Brown, DTM. Here is a link to the article: https://www.toastmasters.org/magazine/magazine-issues/2022/july/toolbox

Rhythm or Cadence in a presentation

In the article, Bill talks about cadence – a rhythmic pattern looking at the number of syllables and at which syllables have a hard emphasis and soft emphasis. He recommends thinking about this for a takeaway line, a tagline for a business, or a rhetorical device in a speech like a triad (or grouping of three). He also indicates that cadence helps make it easier to memorize a speech.

I think considering cadence for a takeaway, tagline for a business, or in a rhetorical device is a great idea. I will be thinking about this in the presentations I have coming up.

Should you memorize or read your informative presentation?

An informative presentation is not the same as a Toastmasters speech. In some Toastmasters speeches, memorization is necessary.

I recommend against memorizing an informative presentation. I also strongly recommend against reading your presentation.

In an informative presentation, it is important to convey your key information. It is rarely important to say it using precise words.

My friend, Danielle Benzon, of Inspired Coaching, is a voice and speaking coach. She shared a wonderful analogy with me. If you read your speech or have your speech memorized, it is like you are on train tracks. If someone has a question and pulls you off track, your whole speech will be derailed. Instead, you want to practice so that your presentation is inside you and you can converse with your audience. That way, it is like you are on a path in the forest. If someone pulls you off topic, it is easy to get back on the path. Your presentation won’t be derailed.

How to get your informative presentation inside you

Here are three tools you can use to help get your presentations inside you:

  1. Start with a challenging story that relates to your topic. Telling stories are critically important for having your audience focus on you, feel connected with you, and remember your key information. Stories at the start help with you getting into your speech and feeling comfortable. I have written lots of articles on using stories in an informative presentation and on various different types of stories. You can check out five of my blog posts in my blog post entitled “Here are 5 helpful articles on adding stories to your informative or technical presentations here”.
  2. Divide your content into three big buckets. If you have time and need further divisions, you can divide those big buckets into 3 to 5 sub-buckets. It is easier to keep yourself on track with a structure like that. See my Tip 2 in my blog post entitled “3 tips to avoid going off on tangents”.
  3. Try practising your presentation in multiple different ways. Try using different words and different emphasis each time you run through a practice session. That helps get your key information inside you. Once it is, you can simply converse you’re your audience and get all your key information across.

Don’t worry about how you say it at the actual presentation. Check out my blog post entitled “5 things Successful Presenters do to Prepare for their Presentations”.

So don’t read or memorize your presentations. Remember that you know your information. You are an expert in your field. Use these tools get your presentations inside you.

Need help
In my free 45-minute AMP Up Session – Assessment of the Memorability of Your Presenting, the question of reading, memorizing or conversing with your audience and getting all your key information across comes up under Experience and Preparation. During this session, I will guide you through a self Assessment of Experience, Preparation and the other eight things that make an informative presentation memorable and engaging. In doing this, you will see what you are doing well and what might be stopping your informative presentations from being engaging and memorable.

If you are interested in finding out for yourself, please find a time that works for you on my Calendly page: https://calendly.com/brenda-memorablepresenter/45min-amp_up. Booking an AMP UP Session is a great first step towards learning how to prepare a presentation so that it inside you.