Written by Suzanne Guthrie
Voice is a powerful tool for presenters. Voice can make all the difference between success and failure when you’re aiming to engage your audience. In sales meetings, company updates or technical meetings, it is critical to keep your audience involved and interested in your remarks. Learn how to stretch your voice by understanding the 5 P’s of Voice Control including Pitch, Pace, Pause, Projection & Personality.
Pitch refers to the ups and downs of your notes when you speak. We all have the ability to speak from a vocal range – which includes higher notes and lower notes. However, it takes great awareness and practice to notice your own pitch and to change it consciously. Why is pitch important? A monotone voice bores the audience and a bored audience is less likely to recall your key points or to take action. To play around with pitch try thinking of popular characters who have voices at either end of the vocal range then practice speaking (or singing!) like them. For example you might think of Michael Jackson’s high pitched voice and then compare it with Barry White’s deeper tones. You can also simulate the voices of movie actors to start expanding your own range. Over time your awareness and practice with pitch will enable you to vary your voice as you speak – all in the aim of drawing your audience into your remarks. Now that we’ve looked at Pitch, let’s move on to Pace.
Pace refers to the speed at which you speak. Just as monotone is boring so is mono-pace. A good speaker knows the value of changing the pace as they speak. For example, when you are introducing a topic that is exciting you can speed up the pace of your voice. On the other hand, when you want people to focus their attention you may slow down for emphasis. The overall point is that variation is the key to success here. So play around with your pace next time you speak to see the impact on your audience. Now that we have explored Pace we will move on to look at Pause.
Pause involves stopping momentarily for effect in the middle of your remarks. It is a tool that is used hand in hand with variation of Pace. A pause is best used before or after a significant point as a tool for emphasis. Pause is also a tremendous tool for nervous speakers who tend to speak too fast. By stopping at key points, the speaker allows the audience time to process key points before moving on to new material. One easy trick is to underline key points in your notes and then place the word PAUSE in large letters to remind you to stop speaking for a few seconds. Actively playing with pause will have a profound effect on your presentation prowess. Now that we have covered Pause let’s move on to the powerful tool of Projection.
This aspect of voice is by far the most important as it correlates to your audience’s ability to hear your remarks. Even the most intelligent presenter can not have their desired impact if the people in the room can not hear their key points. With projection, everyone can hear your comments without having to strain their voice. However, there is still value in varying your projection to add intrigue and interest to your comments. For example, you might want to soften your voice to emphasize a key point and then later increase the volume for another point. In either case you must ensure that all members of the audience can hear each and every point. Practice projecting your voice by imagining that everyone is sitting against the far wall in the room. Ensure they can hear you and that you are speaking from your diaphragm. Now that we have discussed Projection let’s take a look at Personality.
Personality refers to the color, warmth and meaning that comes from hearing your voice. The personality of your voice will dictate if people are “turned on” or “turned off” when listening to you. Certainly adjusting the pitch and volume will help the quality of your voice. Adding emotion will give your voice color and warmth. So too will a smile which softens and warms up the vocal tones that people hear. Personality can vary from passionate, to bored, to serious, to light. What personality are you going for when you speak on a given topic? Give it some thought and choose a word that captures the tone you want your voice to convey. Write that word at the top of your notes so that you consciously strive to imbue your voice with the personality that will help you make the most impact.
Using the 5Ps of Vocal Control Together
When you’re just starting out you may want to focus on one P at a time then add in more until you are able to stretch your voice to reveal all 5 P’s in a given presentation. By playing around with each aspect of vocal control you can imbue your voice with interest, warmth, and personality! Utilize each of the P’s, including Pitch, Pace, Pause, Projection & Personality to actively engage your audience and keep them wanting more. If you want additional information on how to hone your presentation skills visit our website to get a free copy of report on how to Master Your Presentation Skills at www.boldnewdirections.com or look at www.presentationtraininginstitute.com
About The Author:
Suzanne Guthrie is co-founder of Bold New Directions, a transformational learning company that works with companies to transform people and performance through training solutions including seminars, coaching and keynote events. Bold New Directions specializes in training solutions that build leadership skills, communication skills and resilience at work. You can learn more about Suzanne Guthrie and presentation skills training by visiting the Bold New Directions web site at www.boldnewdirections.com
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