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Using Your Voice

 

Techniques Public speaking > Speaking Tips > Using Your Voice

Practicing | Being heard | Being interesting | Expressing emotion | See also

 

When speaking your voice is your main tool. Make sure it is sharpened and ready, then use it to its full extent.

Practicing

Practice is the secret of good speakers and developing your voice is a particularly important part of this.

Practice sounds by making long resonances with vowel-based sounds such as 'oooooo', 'eeeee', ahhh', etc. Practice projecting, using good breathing to expel air that reaches the back without shouting.

Record yourself and listen to the sounds you make. Practice making your voice effortlessly louder and more expressively interesting, as below.

Being heard

Good actors are heard by people in the back row, even when they seem to be whispering. This comes from learning to project your voice. Teachers can do this too. It's all about using air.

Being heard is also about diction, pronouncing words clearly so they are each easy to understand. To do this, shape each word with your mouth and put small spaces between the words. Control your speaking speed, giving your audience time to hear and interpret what you say.

Sentences that end with declining pitch sound like a command. Those that end with rising pitch sound like a question. To be authoritative, start with a lower pitch, increase the pitch up to the main point then bring it back down again in the conclusion.

Being interesting

People are interested in things that are aligned with their goals and general interests in life. They are interested in things that are new, and not just recycled old hat. They want to learn, to be enthused and find stimulation. When they are interested, they will be attentive, listening carefully to what you say.

You can help them to stay interested by the way you use your voice.  Modulate it, with the pitch going up and down. Be louder for important things and quieter for delicate things. Change the texture, making it rough or smooth, gentle or hard, or whatever surface you can create to better express what you mean.

A particular way to make the texture of your voice more interesting is to make it resonate within your mouth and sinuses. Do not lose your voice down your throat or just in you teeth: move your speaking to the whole mask of your face where it can buzz and hum in interesting ways.

One way to sustain attention is to be conversational, talking as if you were talking with a single person. Be careful with this as you can also appear too casual and disrespectful.

Expressing emotion

Voices are very good at expressing emotion, so use yours to show when you are excited, happy, bored, angry, afraid or whatever. Ensure you align body language with your vocal emotion in order that you send a honest expression.

Emotions are catching, and the emotions you project will likely be felt by many of the audience, provided you have got them on your side first.

Beware of over-doing this. If you over-emote at an audience that prefers a cooler, cognitive approach, you will lose them. Some people enjoy a roller-coaster whilst others go for a smooth road.

See also

Preparing Yourself for Speaking, Speaking and Breathing

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