Voice Tips for Speakers & Leaders Part I

Public Speaking - Climb the Ladder of Success

Beginning speakers often make mistakes and its no fault of their own. Mistakes are a part of the learning process and furthermore most people are simply unaware they are even making these vocal mistakes. Herein we’ll explore a few of the most common vocal mishaps novice speakers make and how to avoid them. Like most other skills, our habits often drive our outcomes. Often beginning speakers have vocal habits that hinder the successful reception of their message. Identifying these and addressing these can be critical to being a successful speaker or leader.

Slow Down

Many novice speakers will be anxious or nervous while speaking and it manifests in the voice. Beginning speaker will often speak much more quickly and therefore are less effective at communicating their message. Audiences quickly hear the nervousness in rapid fire vocal delivery and often are less attentive to such message. As a general recommendation, most speakers should learn to relax as our psychological state is imbued in the voice. Slowing our delivery to the point where we can be understood by all is a critical importance. Remember, if we aren’t auctioneers there’s no need to rush.

Be Unpredictable

Even been to a speech where the speaker has a habit of delivering in the same pace, vocal variety or rhythm? Did it engage you as a member of the audience or put your to sleep? Most likely the latter.
Don’t be predictable in your vocal patterns or you’ll give your audience an excuse to mentally check out, update social media or surf the net rather than connect with your message. Vocal dynamics help keep an audience interested in what you are saying as much as your content or body language do. Amplify your vocal dynamics and it will improve the reception of your message.

Breath Deeply

The breath is what gives life and power to the voice. Proper breath should be thought of as the basis for powerful vocal delivery. Problem is, most novice speakers, when under the weight fear or anxiety of speaking in public don’t breath in ways that are conducive of effective delivery. Glossophobia or fear of public speaking puts people in a state in which their breath is quick and shallow. This is a bit like trying to run a marathon while holding your breath, it won’t end well. Instead our breath should be deep diaphragmatic breathing to bring power behind the vocal delivery. This deep diaphragmatic breathing is the basis for powerful vocal delivery – use it.

Bring Vocal Energy

If we want an audience to be moved by our message does it help if we deliver it without any energy? Definitely not. Of the 1000’s of students we have trained I’ve seen new students give speeches where they spoke to a subject they claimed they were excited about but delivered it as lifeless, passionless as possible. The energy level we bring to vocal delivery is a key component of a successful speech, presentation or meeting. If we look at our vocal delivery we need to bring it up a notch from what we might normally deliver. If we assume a 1-10 energy scale and we usually deliver at an energy level of 3 we should kick it up to a 5 or 6. We simply need to add more energy than we might normally connect and captivate our audience.

Care for Your Voice

The voice requires special care if we want to be able to perform optimal in speaking or leadership situations. There are many things we should minimize to keep our voice in tip top shape as presenters and leaders and a few are:

  • Smoking – If you are a smoker that is O.K. – simply try to not overdue it and smoke excessively before an important speech as it may harms or cause strain on your vocal chords.
  • Caffeine/Alcohol – It goes without saying that too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing. We recommend you stay away from both caffeine and alcohol before important speeches as it hastens dehydration and it can have a marked effect on your vocal performance.
  • Dairy products – Sure dairy is delicious but we shouldn’t overdo it. Dairy increase mucus production and can effect vocal quality and thus our delivery.
  • Over use – The day before (or of a speech) don’t over use your voice or it will impact your capacity to delivery. Over using your voice can have a harmful effect on your speech outcomes.

In this the first part of a series, we have explored some of the tips to help you improve your voice as a speaker and leader. Let us know any questions you might have in the comments below or drop us a message. We are here to help drive your public speaking and leadership success. If you found this post useful, feel free to join our monthly newsletter.

Joseph Guarino is a professional public speaker, trainer and owner of the Institute of Public Speaking a Boston based international public speaking & leadership training organization. As a seasoned public speaking trainer & professional speaker he enjoys helping other succeed in this worthy and rewarding craft. The Institute of Public Speaking offers a variety of public speaking courses for individuals (1 on 1 training), executive speech coaching, one day public speaking bootcamps, advanced public speaking bootcamps and public speaking seminars for corporations & groups of any size.
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