The Crescendo: A Critical Piece Most Speakers Unfortunately Leave Out

Reaching a crescendo

Many speakers tell stories that have some ups and downs and maybe even good emotional twists and turns, but they don’t often reach a crescendo.

Crescendos are so important because they are defining moments that bring the audience’s energy to its highest point. Without them, your audience can easily be deflated.


What’s a crescendo? defines crescendo as “a steady increase in force or intensity” and “the climactic point or moment in such an increase; peak.”

I look at it as the highest peak of intensity or force with your story. However, to have a crescendo, you must build to it gradually. That means you can’t jump to it too quickly and you can’t take too long to get there. There needs to be a gradual increase in excitement, intensity, or force so that it seems quite natural once you hit the peak.

Listen to the following example of my 2-minute car story wherein I gradually reach a crescendo.

What was the highest peak of force and intensity? Right, when I yelled, “Where do I sign?!”


What happens after the Crescendo?

What happens after the crescendo is just as important as the crescendo itself. The key is to bring down the force and intensity afterwards and shift your energy in a way that says, “Okay, let’s get back to our conversation.”

After I yelled, “Where do I sign?!” I gradually brought the level of force down and eventually became conversational again (after a couple of more humorous lines) when I said, “Don’t sell the product, service, idea, or yourself; always sell the result.”

In truth, I could have shifted the energy even more and dropped my voice to a low and slow level when I said that line. Why? Because even though you gradually reach your crescendo, you do not have to be gradual on the way back down. Actually, the immediate contrast will pull your audience in deeper. That’s called an energy shift.


A Crescendo in 3 Steps

Step 1: Build up your level of force and intensity gradually

Step 2: Have the defining moment and reach the highest peak of force and intensity

Step 3: Immediately shift your energy and bring yourself back to a conversational level


Your Turn

Do you have a story that builds into a definite crescendo? What do you do afterwards? What kind of energy shift do you make?

Craig Valentine

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