How effective is your public speaking voice?
‘The human voice is the most beautiful instrument of all, but it is the most difficult to play.’ Richard Strauss
Despite the truth and elegance of this quote, I believe that the word ‘voice’ means a great deal more than the sound produced in a person’s larynx. The verbal expression of our message is of course vitally important. Volume, pitch, pace, tone and articulation are just a handful of the components of our public speaking voice. There are of course, many more.
Here are 5 good places to start
Change the way you see your audience?
When you look at your audience don’t just see colleagues, clients or the management team. See a room full of sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters listening to you. Would you speak to a room full of business colleagues differently to the way you speak with your mother?
Sadly, the answer for most people is, ‘yes, of course’.
It’s completely normal
It’s a little like the ‘telephone voice‘ most of us have. I like this description of the ‘telephone voice’:
‘An accent, tone of voice, etc., used or adopted by a person when speaking on the telephone, especially either one that is intended to be particularly clear, engaging, or businesslike, or one which is regarded as affectedly cultivated or pretentious.’
Being on the receieving end of someones ‘telephone voice’ is harmless. In fact, it often sounds quite funny.
‘Corporate speak‘, is however, not so funny
It’s extremely common in business presentations. For some professionals their ‘telephone voice’ morphs into their public speaking voice.
This isn’t particularly harmful either but it’s not helpful. It makes us all sound the same.
The ‘corporate speak’ often stifles authenticity and freedom of expression. Have you noticed how many presenter’s in your organisation sound very similar.
We all have a uniquely distinct voice. Unfortunately it can get a little lost and adversely affect our public speaking voice when we see a room full of clients or colleagues.
Sometimes, it’s worth looking at the room a little differently.
Take a look at this comical video on ‘corporate speak’: What Corporate People Sound Like
2. Remember what you stand for?
It’s all well and good saying we should ‘ditch’ the corporate speak and be ourselves but how do you do that exactly?
It starts by remembering who you are, what you value and care about.
It’s a myth that your audience want to see a slick, memorised and polished speaker present to them. That’s theatre.
Your audience are far more connected to you and your message when they can relate to you as a compassionate human being.
Before you present, remind yourself of:
– Your personal and professional values.
– What you believe in and stand for.
– The fact that you may be an expert in your field but are also someone’s, son, daughter, mother or father.
It’s much easier to connect authentically with your audience when you are true to yourself. It’s more fun too.
Don’t forget that the reason you are presenting is because you have a level of knowledge, information or insight that your audience doesn’t have.
3. Set a clear intention
A strong public speaking voice extends way beyond the spoken word.
It starts and ends with our intention. That entails:
– Deciding well in advance what you want your audience to feel emotionally.
– Setting out to be open and honest with your audience.
– Challenging the status quo.
– Giving them a glimpse of the real you.
– Showing them how passionate you are
– Making your presentation entirely focused on your audience.
The unspoken word elicits a potent effect too
I wrote a previous article which was inspired by the late Wayne Dyer on how the power of intention can enhance our public speaking voice.
This article set out the significance of having a clear intention of:
4. Own the room
Your public speaking voice is greatly enhanced by owning the room as well as your own voice.
It’s easier to speak with confidence and ease if you move around the space you are presenting in with purpose.
– Wherever possible, ensure you are familiar with the space and environment you will be speaking in before you do so.
– If the opportunity is available, get their early and get a feel for the space and imagine presesenting in it.
– Don’t stand in one spot, move mindfully in the space available – Movement is energy, it offers visual stimulation. Make sure you move your hands, face, voice and entire body (meaningfully). Don’t just stand or sit there to speak.
– Set the room out exactly the way you want it.
– Identify and prepare for any challenges or issues in the space and environment.
– Connect with the energy of the room.
Command the room in the knowldge that it’s your speaking platform.
Watch this brilliant video on how to own the room: Dalton Sherman Keynote speech
5. Become vocally aware
Recognise that when you speak your voice is your most important tool. Strengthen, challenge and develop your physical voice by doing vocal exercises and listening to your own regularly.
Our vocal chords are like muscles. They can be made stronger and more flexible through practicing vocal exercises.
Stretch and challenge your voice to build a wider range of volume, pitch, pace, tone and energy. You can do this in a number of ways:
– Practice regularly doing vocal exercises
– Record and listen to you voice
– Practice pausing and slowing down
– Take a few paragraphs from your favourite book and practice reading it out aloud several times. Each time with a different, volume, emotion, pace and pitch.
Watch the following very powerful video: Empowerment through Voice: Communication Mastery for Leaders | Arthur Samuel Joseph
If you need a little help developing your public speaking voice:
– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.
– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.
– Get yourself some excellent presentation training
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If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and public speaking coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.
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