At a public speaking workshop, the instructor-facilitator puts identical copies of a speech in front of two people. The first person is a long time, experienced public speaker. The second is an executive who hopes to improve his public speaking skills. Neither person has seen the speech before, but they’re each given 15 minutes to prepare before presenting in front of the group. The first person delivers the speech with flourish. She’s engaging, barely looks at her notes, and every person in the room is captivated, laughs at the funny parts and enjoys her personal anecdotes. The second person, a man who has just been appointed vice-president of a company, is here at the meeting because he wants to learn how to be a better speaker. When he gives the speech, the difference between his presentation and the first speaker’s is palpable. He looks at his notes a lot, shuffles his feet, doesn’t make eye contact, and is generally nervous. We’re sorry to say that before long, he has lost the attention of many of the people in the room.
As a speaker, your voice and your presence are everything. Of course, the words matter, but it’s really your voice, your gestures, and the way you conduct yourself that makes or breaks the speech. Below are…
5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Public Speaking Voice
- Listen to the Sound of Your Own Voice – Before you begin, you need to assess your voice. Get a digital recorder and record yourself giving a short speech. As painful or embarrassing as it might be, play the recording back, and listen critically to your voice and your delivery. Are you rushing? Are you too high-pitched? If necessary, play the recording for a voice coach or an objective friend, and ask for their opinion.
- Slow Down and Take Time to Enunciate – Have you ever heard someone rush through a story? Even if it’s unintentional, the person might sound nervous, or panicky. Next time you speak, listen to yourself. You’re more likely to speak quickly when you’re nervous, or if you’re reading off a sheet. But when you slow down, you’re able to project your voice and enunciate. Slow, deliberate speaking conveys authority, confidence, and invites people to savour and absorb what you’re saying.
- Work those Vocal Chords – Just like your arms, legs and stomach muscles need exercise; your vocal chords do, too. With vocalization exercises, you can improve the pitch of your voice – make it less shrilly and thin. You can also improve your voice’s volume and duration so you can go through an entire talk without looking like you ran a marathon. Vocalization exercises can be as simple as opening your mouth wide to exercise the muscles, or breathing deeply and exhaling as if you’re whispering or hissing.
- Pause for Thought – Can you imagine the Godfather rushing his words so much that his voice shakes, his speech stutters and his words all come out in a jumble? Neither can we. I want you to speak like the Godfather, or at least aim for that vocal clarity. This man doesn’t rush for anyone, and neither do you. Don’t rush your words, and before you jump from one paragraph into the next, give a healthy pause, so that your audience can process what you are saying.
- Take Care of Yourself – What’s the use of all the prep work you did if you’re too sleepy to give a good presentation? Before a big talk, get a good night’s sleep, eat something so you don’t get the shakes, and treat your vocal chords well. If you’re prone to getting hoarse after speeches, soothe your throat with honey and hot water, and as silly as this sounds, stretch your mouth, tongue and put a little dab of Vaseline on your teeth to prevent your lips from sticking to them when you get nervous.
The real secret to Improve Your Public Speaking Voice is to gain lots of self-confidence when you speak. The 2-Day Fearless Presentations ® class is a fantastic way to do that! Call us or visit the information page for details!