You probably use your voice for a substantial part of your working day but you may take it for granted that it will do what you want it to do. You may need to speak with greater authority over the telephone, get your ideas across well in a meeting, persuade your colleagues along a certain line or command and captivate an audience.
For any of these and other situations, your voice plays a key role in making a powerful impact on your listeners.
What makes a good voice?
A good voice is one that is easy to listen to, that holds your audiences’ interest and is confident and inspiring. A good speaker will :
- Command the attention of their listeners
- Communicate their messages clearly
- Influence and inspire their listeners
Most people don’t like to listen to the sound of their own voices. You will often see people cringe when they have to hear themselves being played back on a camera or recorder. You may think that a good speaker is born that way and that you are stuck with your own vocal limitations.
However, training the voice to sound better doesn’t need to be a complicated or lengthy process. It’s easy to develop some simple but key vocal skills to help you sound more confident and interesting. And many of these techniques can be applied straight away to make an immediate difference.
Controlling the way you speak
Nerves play a very important factor in influencing your voice. When you are nervous your natural tendency is to speed up. The effects of this can be that you
- Lose your thought track and start to waffle on
- Mumble and become unclear
- Sound monotone and uninspiring
You therefore need to control the speed of your delivery so that you avoid falling into these bad habits. There is one key way to do this. This is to use a pause -which acts like a brake pedal to help you slow down.
When you first start to speak, aim to pause for about 2 – 3 seconds after your first sentence. This may seem like a life-time but it will actually help you to control your speed and avoid racing ahead of yourself. It will also seem very natural to your audience as the pause allows them time to adjust to your voice and take in what you have just said.
Vocal exercise to help control your voice
A good way to practise getting use to pausing is to read out aloud a piece of text. This can be from a newspaper or magazine etc. When you get to a full stop make sure that you pause for 2-3 seconds before moving on to the next sentence. This will help you to train yourself to pause at the end of your sentences and maintain a steady pace.
If you practise this exercise, the next time you have to speak to a group of people, the effect will be quite noticeable. You will come across with greater:
Training the voice to sound more interesting
So now that you have learnt how to develop greater control over your voice, the next thing is to learn how to sound more interesting.
Some of the most common turn-offs to an audience when listening to a dull and uninspiring speaker are:
- A monotone voice
- A voice that is too quiet
- A voice that lacks emphasis
You need to speak with energy and enthusiasm if you want your audience to want to listen to your every word.
If the audience can’t hear you they will switch off very quickly. To avoid this you don’t need to shout but you do need to learn how to project your voice.
To help project energy and power into your voice, emphasise the key words in your sentences, which will catch the attention of the audience. For example, take the sentence
“I encourage everyone to work together as a team so that we all achieve greater success.”
You could pull out the key words in this sentence such as
- Greater Success
By emphasising these words you will automatically project energy and passion into your voice and your voice will sound stronger and more confident. Emphasising words also tends to lift the pitch in your voice – so that it is no longer monotone but more varied and interesting to listen to.
Vocal exercise to help you sound more interesting
It doesn’t take long to get used to using emphasis in your everyday speech. With a bit of practice it can happen very easily.
You can practice in a similar way to the exercise on vocal control. Use your piece of text again and this time before you read it out aloud, underline the key words in the sentences.
When you read it out aloud emphasise these key words. The more you practise doing this, the easier it becomes to emphasise words naturally.
Making the most of your voice
We have looked at two simple techniques to help you make the most of your voice:
- Using the pause to control your voice
- Using emphasis to help make your voice more interesting
There are many more easy-to-practice exercises that help to bring out the best qualities in your voice. If you attend a voice training workshop or have some personal coaching with a voice coach, you can learn how to unlock the power of your voice. You will learn to develop a much greater awareness of your vocal potential and how to use your vocal qualities to help influence others in a positive way in all speaking situations.
Like to develop your voice to its full potential?
Voice coaching from an expert can help you to discover your true voice; develop your own vocal strengths and thus communicate with greater influence in all situations.
To get some expert advice and coaching and enhance your vocal skills, click on one of the links below:-
Skillstudio also offer public courses, 1-2-1 coaching and in-house training in many aspects of presentation skills and communication skills, including public speaking, job interview skills and body language awareness.
Call us today on 08456 444 150 if you want to discuss how our voice training can help you or your team.
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