Have you ever been watching the news when all of a sudden the anchor loses contact with you? You can tell that he or she is paying close attention to the teleprompter, and the connection with you as a viewer is temporarily gone. (It’s really clear that someone is talking but not communicating when you get a call from a telemarketer who proceeds to read a script!)
This happens in all kinds of circumstances, when someone thinks more about the technique of communicating than actually communicating. It can occur in music, too. I once read a classical music review that said of a pianist that “he seems more interested in playing the piano than in playing the music.”
Many years ago I attended a singing master class at Boston University, given by soprano Phyllis Curtin for a story I did on Monitor Radio. A young baritone sang an aria from Gounod’s opera Faust. He had a gorgeous voice and he made the most of it. We sat there bathing in the glorious sound.
When he was done singing the aria through the first time, Curtin asked him what the words meant. As she had him sing it line by line thinking about the words, the aria itself began to mean something. He was no longer thinking about showing off his gorgeous voice. He was a brother praying to God to protect his sister while he went to war. His voice no longer mattered — he was communicating. (And we were no longer thinking about his gorgeous voice — it was there, but we were hearing his soul instead.)
So, when you think about communicating, think about the meaning of what you’re saying and to whom you’re saying it more than you think about the technique — whatever you concentrate on is what the audience will hear!