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Vary the rhythm of your talk

Vary the rhythm of your talk

Vary the rhythm of your presentations  and talks with this tip from ‘The Speakers Coach: 60 secrets
to make your talk, speech or presentation amazing’

by Graham Shaw   

Look inside on Amazon

Varying the rhythm makes your talk more enjoyable for the audience

Just like a piece of music that sounds great at the start, if a talk goes on much the same without a change, we soon lose interest. But if you make sure your talks have plenty of variation in content, method of delivery and pace then your audience will stay engaged throughout.

Why it matters

  • Sameness gets tedious and tiring for the audience
  • When people become bored they ‘zone out’ and stop paying attention
  • With variation you can evoke positive feelings such as curiosity and excitement
  • A varied rhythm makes key messages more memorable
  • By changing the rhythm can increase impact
  • Impact increases the chances of the audience taking the action you desire

What to do

Use the ideas in this ‘Start, Middle, End’ below, to vary the rhythm of your talk.


  • Start where they are
  • Create curiosity
  • Grab attention


  • Contrasts
  • Stories
  • Metaphors
  • Logic, emotion
  • Seeing, hearing, feeling
  • Memorable words and pictures
  • Humour
  • Wow Moments
  • Energy Spikes
  • Challenge thinking
  • Show need to change
  • Consequences of not changing
  • Make it easy to step on board with the change


  • Summary
  • Call to action
  • Describe the new reality

Three important things to do:

1. Vary the Content

  • Keep your subject moving - don’t dwell longer than necessary on one point
  • Give key ideas - rather than great detail, unless there is reason to add detail.
  • Make strong links between one piece of content and the next.

2. Vary the Method

Make it multi-sensory

People will have different preferences for how they learn. When you make your talk multi-sensory by varying the methods used, you will appeal to the preferences of more people more of the time. 

 You might include:

  • Seeing photographs, graphs, flowcharts, diagrams, videos
  • Hearing stories, case studies, jokes, examples, facts, music
  • Saying asking people to discuss an aspect of the talk with the person sitting next to them.
  • Doing asking them to solve a puzzle, write something, or collaborate on an activity with another person or group.

3. Vary the Pace

As you vary content and methods you will find the pace naturally changes. However you can also do much to enhance this through changing your own pace and energy.

  • Slow down to add drama
  • Speed up to add excitement
  • Pause to let points sink in
  • Make it lively to keep it light and entertaining
  • Make it serious to emphasise important points

Your turn

Enhance the rhythm of an upcoming talk:

  1. Look through your draft of an upcoming talk as if it were a piece of music.
  2. Identify where you already have interesting variation of content, method and pace.
  3. Make a note of any parts where you don’t.
  4. Use the guidance in this secret to help you think of ideas to enhance those parts.
  5. Select only the best of those ideas and incorporate them into your plan.

Learn all 60 secrets in  ‘The Speaker’s Coach: 60 secrets to make your talk, speech or presentation amazing’ by Graham Shaw      Look inside on Amazon