Just got back from a kickoff meeting for a global IT project. Thirty people were sitting around a big table. One of the leaders of the meeting said, “Let’s all introduce ourselves. Say your name and tell us some things.”
Ugh. Another slog through a forest of biographical facts and resume trivia.
The first guy stood up, pushed his chair under the table, leaned on the back of the chair and said “My name is [guttural utterance].”
The second person did the same thing–stood up, pushed his chair under the table, wrapped his lips over his name and swallowed it whole.
On it went. The worst was an English guy who mumbled and grunted as if he were talking to himself.
I probably did the same thing. Why? Because I’m accustomed to my name, accustomed to saying it. My name belongs to me. It’s a part of me I can’t change. I say it the same way all the time. All my friends know my name. I just throw it out there expecting everyone to recognize it.
In this case, I bet most people didn’t.
I have recently learned how not to do this. How not to say my name.
The way to not say your name is to say it without any change of pitch between your first and last name.
I’ve learned I should say it with a rising intonation on my first name, and a falling intonation on my last.
So your first name climbs up in pitch, and your last name drops down in pitch.
So here goes. “My name is SIMS (rising pitch) WYETH (falling pitch.)”
The graphical representation would be a ^, or caret mark–a common proofreading symbol.
Oh, one more thing. When you get to the top of the hill with your first name, take a rest for a split second before you head down the hill with your last name.
So, one more time. “My name is SIMS (rising pitch), [pause at the top], WYETH (falling pitch.)
That moment of silence at the top of the mountain gives your listeners a chance to take your name in, especially if it’s an unusual name.
Now you try it. Go up with your first name, pause for a tiny second, and then come down with your last name.
It feels kind of weird and awkward, but it makes your name pop out, as though it had the glow of orange neon in it.
So don’t settle for a guttural utterance! Your name is a unique designation, and you should ensure that listeners hear it clearly and brightly.
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