Your voice plays a critical role in your success as a speaker. In fact, research has shown that the sound of a speaker’s voice matters almost twice as much as the content of the message! When people listen to your voice, they will often make quick judgements about whether you are strong, assertive, weak, passive, or respectable. The sound of your voice actually influences the way others perceive you. Therefore, you need to make the most of this important tool and harness the power of your voice to ensure optimal results from your presentations. Here are a few tricks that can help you improve your speaking voice.
Practice Deep Breathing
Breathing is the most fundamental activity we need to sustain life. It also controls nearly every other aspect of our physical abilities. Proper breathing can help you relax, sharpen your mind, and calm you emotionally. All of these things contribute to a full, rich speaking voice. Most people breathe too quickly, resulting in an unnatural, nasal tone. It is important to breathe from your diaphragm to access your most optimum voice. To do so, simply inhale for 5 seconds and let your belly rise, and then exhale and let your belly fall. Focus on deep breathing each day to develop a healthy habit and always spend some time doing deep breathing exercises right before a presentation.
Use Voice Exercises
Just as an athlete stretches their muscles to prevent damage and injury, stretching your voice is critical for public speakers. Controlled, steady vocal exercises increase acid in the muscles surrounding your vocal cords, which allows those muscles to work more efficiently. When you warm up and exercise your voice on a regular basis, you will have greater flexibility and more control over your voice. You can do this by memorizing a few lines from a favorite book, song, or poem and reciting them as you walk or drive around. Add energy and emotion into your words, changing your inflection and stretching those muscles around your vocal cords.
Slow Down and Speak Up
Speaking too quickly is a symptom of nerves and can become a bad habit for speakers. This makes it difficult for your audience to understand what you are saying and you are more likely to lose their attention. Likewise, people will ignore you when you talk too softly and this gives the impression that you are nervous. Focus on slowing down and speaking up. You don’t need to shout, but you should speak loud enough for everyone in the room to hear you. Speakers who speak loud and slow convey confidence and credibility.
Vary Your Pitch
Your voice is a powerful tool that can influence an audience. Speakers should vary their pitch to make the presentation more engaging. Likewise, different pitches can be used to convey different meanings to the listener. Avoid monotony and speaking with only one pitch tone, as this will bore audiences.
Record Your Voice
Although many people don’t like listening to the sound of their own voice, this can be a great way to pick up on any flaws that you might not notice otherwise. Listen for mispronunciations and volume and pitch problems. Replay the recordings over and over, looking for ways to improve your delivery.