When Shakespeare’s plays were performed the dialogue did most of the heavy lifting when communicating key messages to the audience. As entrepreneurs, we can apply this same intentionality with words and intonation to our sound when giving presentations that helps us communicate key ideas to our customer audience on YouTube, at conferences, or even in conversation.
That’s why so many of Shakespeare’s plays include a soliloquy.
Shakespeare wasn’t simply given to long and winded speeches, the device was used intentionally to setup context for the audience often preceding a dramatic event, or explaining the inner thoughts of the character.
One of the features of the dialogue that you can often miss unless you take an advanced English class or just have a superb ear for tonal variances in language is that different parts of Shakespeare’s plays use different vocal sounds to convey messages about the person speaking.
You may have heard that Shakespeare often wrote in blank verse—which is in it’s simplest explanation poetry that doesn’t rhyme. It has both meter and rhythm, but the words are not designed to have repetitive sounds.
Prose is the other language device Shakespeare used, and that’s what you would think of as “normal writing” where the character tells a story, but does not follow any musical like pattern with the order of stressed/unstressed syllables.
Among Elizabethan playwrights, language was used to distinguish class or to identify the situation of the character speaking. Prose was used to let the audience know that the character was a comic, or of low status, while verse/poetry would communicate to the audience that the character was of high reputation, to be taken seriously, or held an important office.
Shakespeare deviated from these strict definitions in his plays, specifically, by elaborating on the definition of class, stretching the meaning to include the wide range of human attributes that apply to either station. For example, in Much Ado About Nothing the lovers of the play are both of high rank societally, so they speak in verse throughout most of the play.
Once the lovers come to acknowledge their affection for each other and enter into a more intimate relationship, Shakespeare changes their spoken lines to fit the prose format, not to indicate a loss of status or rank, but instead to convey to the audience that their relationship has become more personal, that the characters themselves are more relaxed with each other.
Similarly, when we market ourselves as a brand how we speak gives an impression to our audience. As an entrepreneur, you have to think about the message you want to send with your intonation, tone, and word choice.
3 sound questions to ask
when giving a speech to your audience:
1) Does your confidence come through in your language?
When you speak to your audience, less is more. You want to take pauses in your speech after key phrases or strong points you’re trying to make so you lend gravity to your ideas. You want your audience to think “man, this person really knows their stuff.” Speak slowly, speak with good articulation, and pause briefly after strong concepts.
2) Does your language distract from the message?
As a general rule, foul language is to be avoided because it marginalizes your audience and distracts from the tone of your message. There are brands that function successfully as the exception to this rule, but just like you wouldn’t expect individuals of high rank (prime ministers, presidents, or heads of state) to use foul language in conveying their point, your word choice will put you into particular categories. Whether you use foul language or not isn’t the point–understand what boxes your word choices put you into and be intentional about your location there.
3) Will your accent support or take away from your audience’s attention?
In Shakespeare’s plays the prose language would often signal that the audience didn’t have to take that character’s opinion too seriously as they were often the comic or the village idiot. Similarly, your accent and intonation when speaking can either ehnance your brand image or take away from it. Consider how you sound when you speak and make sure your accent, dialect, and tonal sounds are emphasizing the messages you intend.
Particularly when on video for YouTube, training tutorials, or even on the telephone with a customer, how we sound sends a message. Make sure you consider your sound before you give these presentations and send the message that supports your goals.