Projecting your voice to the last row can be your speech-making secret weapon. Using a strong, projected voice is one of the most fundamental ways to create a lively, exciting presentation. A robust voice also creates an image of knowledge, credibility, and authority. Still, in my work as a speech coach, I have found most people must be cajoled to speak louder. Let's look at the reasons for this reticence and also why projecting your voice is a vital part of a powerful presentation.
Why don't we project our voices?
- While children are seldom scolded for soft voices, they are often stopped for being “too boisterous.” For adults, "raising one's voice" can have the negative connotations of anger or conflict. In my classes, women are especially prone to very soft voices. Are we still teaching young girls that it is "more feminine" to speak quietly?
- Since we don't practice projecting our voice, when we do try to speak with more volume we can feel especially self-conscious. Even when my students are speaking with a moderate intensity, they fear they are "screaming." Because we hear ourselves "from the inside," our new volume may feel overdone. And if we raise our voices without care --while screaming at a football game or concert-- we may end up with very sore vocal cords and hoarseness. We may conclude that we don't have the ability to project our voices safely.
- I've also found that too many of us dislike our voices in the same ways that we dislike our appearance. If a speaker fears that her voice is too high, too nasal-sounding or too raspy, she will probably be reluctant (at least unconsciously) to be louder.
- Finally, on a deep level, we must be willing to let our ideas and feelings be heard by others. Latent fears of ridicule or rejection can keep us from projecting our voice.
Tomorrow let’s explore why we should project our voice.
Laura Lewis-Barr is president of Traning4Breakthroughs, and she is an expert presentation skills coach based in Chicago, Illinois. She teaches classes in Minneapolis, Chicago, Indianapolis, St Louis, and other cities in the Midwest, and works with clients all over the world.