“Thanks for your reply!” an associate emailed me, with a cheerful exclamation point. 

How many emails do you get, or send, that end like that? I get a lot! And I send them too!  I think it’s contagious!

But more often, I end emails with a simple, low-key “thanks.” Perhaps that looks flat—or even sarcastic. 

Suppose someone gives you something, but it’s less than you expected, much less. You write back, “thanks.” Are you really thankful? No! You’re really bitter.

Whereas with “thanks!,” there’s no doubt about your gratitude; “thanks!” screams gratitude. The email I got today—”Thanks for your reply!”—made it sound like my reply, or any reply at all, was downright amazing.

That reminds me of an episode from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” a popular sitcom, years ago, in which one of the characters, Ted Baxter, tells Mary how to completely change her life.

The problem, Ted says, is that every day “you wake up, you eat breakfast, you drive to work, you say ‘hello’ to your friends, you work at your job, you go to lunch, you work some more . . .

“What you’ve got to do,” Ted says, “starting tomorrow: WAKE UP!  EAT YOUR BREAKFAST!  DRIVE TO WORK!  SAY ‘HELLO’ TO YOUR FRIENDS! . . .”

But as Ted discovers, and you already know, you can’t sustain this level of astonishment. Nor would your colleagues want you to. It would be like putting an exclamation point after every sentence. A little goes a long way.

Same thing when speaking. I remember some advice from a Dale Carnegie public speaking course. One night, we were working on voice. The trick, they said, was vocal variety: “Speak high, speak low; speak fast, speak slow.”

You need to project energy, but that doesn’t mean twisting yourself, 24/7, into a hyper-caffeinated cheerleader. Energy comes from change.

So, if you’re giving a presentation, consider:

  1. Physical variety: Move, then be still. Vary your gestures. Vary your facial expression.
  2. Visual variety: Show a PowerPoint slide, then darken the screen.
  3. Vocal variety: Talk for a while, then ask a question. Or pause.

Tip: Vary it up.


P.S. CAPTURE ATTENTION, every time you speak . . .

Virtual workshop—I’ve been leading Dynamic Speaking, a four-session course for small teams. We practice how to get heard, get remembered, and get results.

Webinars—e.g. Stories that Work; The Power of Presence; Your Point?—Be Concise; Resilience @ Work . . . Click here for all 12 programs.

1-1 Coaching—Got an important, upcoming communication? I’ll help you with design (what to say) and/or delivery (how to say it with presence). Click here for details.

PAUL HELLMAN consults & speaks internationally on how to make your point—fast, focused, powerful.

Latest book: You’ve Got 8 Seconds: Communication Secrets for a Distracted World Selected by a Fortune 50 company for their book club, translated into five languages, available in print, kindle, audio.

To get these fast tips, click here.

P.P.S. Ever wonder where the exclamation point came from? Probably not, but just in case:

The Latin word, io, means joy, and “the Medieval copyists used to write io at the end of a sentence . . . (over time) the i moved above the o, and the o became smaller, becoming a point.”

Thanks Wikipedia!

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