Crescendos are so important because they are the defining moments that bring the audience’s energy to its highest point. Without them, your audience can easily be deflated.
What’s a Crescendo?
Dictionary.com defines crescendo as “a steady increase in force or intensity” and “the climactic point or moment in such an increase; peak.”
I look at the crescendo as the highest peak of intensity or force within your story. However, to have a crescendo, you must build to it gradually. That means you can’t jump to it too quickly but you also 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. Even if you’ve heard the story before, listen for the crescendo and then feel what happens afterwards.
What was the highest peak of force and intensity? Right, when I yelled, “Where do I sign?!” That’s what we had been building up to the entire time.
What happens after the Crescendo?
What happens after the crescendo is just as critical 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 when I said, “Don’t sell the product, service, idea, or yourself; always sell the result.” In hindsight, 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. In fact, the immediate contrast will pull your audience in deeper and let them take a breather.
3 Steps to your next Crescendo
Step 1: Build up your level of force and intensity gradually
Step 2: Have the defining moment when you reach the highest peak of force and intensity
Step 3: Immediately shift your energy and bring yourself back to a conversational level
Being able to have at least one powerful crescendo per module will keep your audience hooked on where you are and where you’re going with the speech.
Do you have a story that builds into a definite crescendo? What kind of shift do you make immediately afterwards?
I challenge you to reach at least one crescendo in your very next speech.
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