Monday, April 29, 2013

Reading Ugly


Bless his heart.

My sentiments as I watched this poor father, herd his two little blond girls into the priority security line at the airport, alone. Standing behind them, the shorter and younger of the two girls turned around, looked up and smiled at me. Melted my heart. I smiled and asked her, “Do you know where you're flying to?” 

“Texas!”
“No way. Me too! Do you know what city?”

I had stumped her. She looked at her Dad for help. I followed her lead and glanced up to see a father who was smiling apologetically for his daughter’s newfound interest in me.

“Dallas.” He answered for her.
“No way. Me too!” I responded, shifting my gaze back to her.

By this point, it was ID and boarding pass check time. Then quickly over to a moving belt, grab a bin or two or three, unload your liquids, remove your laptop, remove your shoes, step into the peeping tom machine, step out the other side, better grab your things before they get crushed, and be on your oh so TSA merry way.

I grabbed my obligatory Starbucks on my way to the gate, and boarded into seat 3A. Head down; phone out: check Instagram, check Facebook, iMessage my peeps. Look up: FATE!

Walking down the aisle and stopping at my row, was none other than Mr. Dad and his two blonde daughters. He laughed, I said hello. He situated his daughters across the aisle and then sat down beside me. Someone had decided that our journey together wasn't over.

I find out the girls, Alex, age five and Ashley, age three were traveling with Dad to visit their Aunt and cousins in Dallas.

And off we went, soaring to 30,000 feet for the next two and a half hours. All was quiet for the first two hours. Then Ashley came over and climbed into her dad’s lap with a book, Grace for President. He happily read it to her. She got down, went and grabbed another book and returned to his lap.

“The Ugly Duckling!” I announced when I saw the book. Ashley smiled and said, “You read it.” The apologetic look came across her father’s face again.

“Of course.” I replied, delighted. Ashley dismounted her dad’s lap and climbed into mine, The Ugly Duckling in hand, and we embarked on our literary journey together.

As we finished the book it was time to make our final descent. Ashley returned to her seat leaving me to reflect. I was on my way to a speaking engagement and reading The Ugly Duckling was the best presentation preparation I could have had.

How reading to a child can help improve your speaking skills:

1. Enunciation. When you read aloud to a child, you are forced to speak and pronounce each and every word. And because you are in teaching mode, you will speak slowly and more clearly, therefore your enunciation is naturally enforced. Yes, you will flub over words, even in children’s books, mostly because you aren’t used to speaking when you read. How often do you glaze over words when you read silently? You can’t do that when you are reading a story to a child.

2. Emphasis. Children’s books give you great words to practice your emphasis. CRACK! Animal sounds, action words, and animated exclamations allow the practice of varying your inflection, your reading speed, and your overall performance. Embrace the story and use it to practice your emphasis.

3. Empathy. I felt for the little Ugly Duckling. When the Ugly Duckling was sad, I read in a sad voice. When the Ugly Duckling found out it was really a beautiful swan it was elated, I read in a happy and excited voice. The biggest power you must own when you are speaking is your ability to transfer emotion. Practice your empathy out loud.

4. Enthusiasm. It’s simple. Children do not like boring. They need stimulation. If you are going to read a book to a child, be prepared to use your full tank of energy and enthusiasm. Go all out! The same is true for any presentation you give. Save the audience from a painfully boring and monotone presentation and please, go all out!

Reading aloud is about effectively transferring the message to the audience. The same is true for your speaking skills. Whether you are a teacher, a coach, a parent, a leader, a salesperson, a waiter, or a human, when you apply the same enunciation, emphasis, empathy and enthusiasm used as reading to a child, your presentation will win and your audience will be entranced.

I’m your Double-Tall, Non-Fat, No-Whip Sales Barista. How may I help you help yourself?

Stephanie Melish, one of the few, hand-selected, Gitomer-Certified Speakers is the ONLY Double-Tall, Non-Fat, No-Whip Sales Barista in the world! Stephanie trains, sells, and speaks to companies and associations all over the country. To book Stephanie for your next event, please visit www.GitomerCertified.com or contact the Michelle at Buy Gitomer via email at michelle@gitomer.com or by calling 704-333-1112.

21 comments:

  1. Excellent! I've written stories for my granddaughter and this makes me choose the right words.

    thanks for sharing!

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  2. Thanks for a great article. As a worship leader in my church, I have routinely practiced those skills as part of my "style" as I have found it paramount to engaging the congregation. It is only now that I have actually seen those four "E" principles put into such a clear & concise way of practical usage. It will henceforth remind me to maintain the practice and will likely have the side benefit of working it's way into a homily at some juncture in the future. Thanks again!

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  3. Great story- thanks for sharing! Your outward focus and self-awareness are inspiring, how you initiated in the midst of TSA/airport security- a situation that intimidates the personality out of most people. Not only are the "4E's" you shared about public speaking valuable, there is an even more powerful lesson in your ability to see the bigger picture of the potential for life-learning rather than getting lost in the mundane details of your trip. On a side note, I appreciate the way you initiated with the young girl ("no way, me too!") right on her level. She hopefully learned that being a grown-up doesn't mean you can't enjoy people and be fun to be around.

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    1. Andyenright - Thank you for the kind words. Communicating is all about knowing your audience. And for the most parts, children are the best audience!

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  4. Wonderful story,Stephanie. What could have been an uncomfortable flight and trip for the girls and their Dad turned into a memorable one for them and for you.
    I love the speaking skills analysis. Hope you won them over at your speech.

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    1. Gene - Thank you for your kind words. The speech was a success!

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  5. Oh darn! I thought you were going to say the Dad was a widower and after the flight he asked you to spend the day with him and the girls.

    Romance blossomed, etc, etc, etc...

    Once a Harlequin Romance girl, always a Harlequin Romance girl!

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    1. Love this! I'm a romantic through and through.

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  6. From now on, I'm looking at evening storytime as professional training. Thanks for the perspective!

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  7. I love this! You are absolutely right about glazing over words when you read. We are constantly trying to absorb more and more information and read faster and faster. We subconciously try to figure out ways to skim and get through material as fast as possible. It's almost like our lives increase a notch in speed every year. I have noticed that as my professional career has progressed I have increasingly heard responses like "what?" or "huh?" or "can you slow down?"

    This made me remember how important it is to keep a distinct separation between thoughts and speech. Although it is most often overlooked, it is natural for a person to subconciously make assumptions about another person's overall literacy and knowledge base, just by the way that they articulate alone. This is a crucial factor to keep in mind when striving for a professional and tenured appearance. It is unfortunate that becoming a more efficient reader could potentially translate into sounding less educated. Because you are subconciously speaking faster, and essentially, "sounding like you have marbles in your mouth," as you glaze over words.

    This article was an extremely beneficial reminder of how important it is to practice your enunciation. I appreciate you taking the time to write such a thought provoking piece.

    Ryan

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    1. Ryan,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. Getting feedback from readers like yourself is just one reward I look forward to when I write. Wishing you much success sans marbles in your mouth!

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  8. Great story!

    Janet

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  9. The timing of this is amazing!! Yesterday I had a customer "complain" about a mumbled voice mail I left for her. And this morning my daughter told me I talk too fast! Thanks for writing this....time to put the 4 Es to work!

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  10. Wow, hits home my 8 year old daughter loves when I make up stories about my childhood friends that have some not so made up but exaggerated components. And I even found myself stumbling and changing my inflection when reading Junie B Jones. Enjoy your day. Our lives are so much better when we win the affection of children.

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  11. Hi Stephanie! Great article. I liked it so much that I wanted to share it, but didn't find any social media links (LinkedIn, FB, Twitter, etc.) I also have a blog on Blogger and found that using AddThis (http://www.addthis.com) that I could add my choice of links to my blog. (NOTE: I do not work for that site). It's free and easy to set up.

    Just a suggestion. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Mark, That was a WONDERFUL suggestion. Thank you so much. It's added. Please share, share, share!

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  12. Great story. I always look forward to your contributions. Who wouldn't be honored to read to a precious child.

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    1. Rodney - Thank you for the kind words!

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  13. You never write a bad piece Stephanie. Great job.

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    1. Gene, You make me blush. Thanks for always cheering me on.

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