Beginning speakers & leaders often make vocal mistakes that effect their communications outcomes. 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 & leaders have vocal habits that hinder the successful reception of their message. Identifying and addressing these can be critical to improving your communications as speaker or leader. Let’s explore how you can orchestrate your voice for successful communication.
Assess Your Vocal Baseline
Before you begin the journey of improving your vocal performance you need a baseline of your current vocal skills. A simple way to accomplish this is to video (record) yourself with your smartphone, tablet or other computing device. Once you are done recording yourself a few times, go back and review your performance. As you review the recording(s), you should close your eyes and focus in on your vocal delivery. While listening take notes and review every last detail of your vocal delivery. A few things to look for are:
Pitch Volume and Pace– Pitch is the highness or lowness of your voice, volume is the softness or loudness of our voice or its intensity. The pace of our voice is the rate of speed with which we deliver the content. The pitch, volume and pace add value to the content we deliver alongside the words themselves – they imbue a whole deeper meaning. Ask yourself is my pitch, volume and pace appropriate for this content? What would be most optimal for your speech, presentation, communication? What do you think you need to change to be more effective?
Vocal Energy – Assess the vocal vigor you bring to your delivery. On a scale of 1-10 where would you say your performance is? As we said in our previous article, 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. Your audience should be able to hear and feel your vocal energy in your delivery.
Vocal Habits – In assessing your vocal practice performance, do you have any habits that might effect your communications reception? For example, do you use a lot of filler words, breath shallow breaths or engage in upspeak? Listening to your performance you’ll start to notice some areas you’ll need to improve upon. Track these in future recorded practice sessions to get an idea of the areas you’ll need to focus in on to improve your communication outcomes. Don’t beat yourself up about the challenges you face, simply learn from them and move forward.
Character of Your Delivery
The characteristics of voice speak volumes on our internal belief systems we hold and even our current emotional state. Beginning speakers or leaders often harbor a sense of self doubt and it manifests in less than optimal vocal delivery. Do you generally feel confident while speaking or do you feel anxious? Speaking nerves are natural but sometime are based in deeply held unconscious beliefs of inadequacy known as the ‘imposter syndrome.’ Even experts fall prey to what is known as the ‘imposter syndrome’ where they feel inadequate despite all external evidence which proves otherwise. Unfortunately, statistically more than 70% of the population has experience this feeling at one time or another. Practice habits that make you aware of these emotional states like: relaxation techniques, deep diaphragmatic breathing and even meditation. Confront those challenges and understand that you are capable just as you are. With a bit of targeted practice you’ll overcome these hurdles.
Assess How You Feel
Our state of mind has an impact on our communications capacities. When we are in a calm, confident and focused state of mind our delivery is optimal. When we feel anxious or afraid we fall prey to many of the vocal issues we have outlined here such as rapid delivery, abundance of filler words and poor breathing. As you listen to and watch your recorded speech, honestly assess your own emotional state during delivery. Could you hear your shallow breath due to nervousness, was your pace excessive because you felt anxious about your delivery? If so, practice one of the many techniques such as deep breathing and relaxation techniques prior to delivery.
Confronting Your Vocal Barriers
Negative vocal habits are vocal barriers to communications success. We accumulate them over time, through experience, until they define our behavior. One student came to us who spoke in a very diminutive and self-deprecating way – without realizing it. We helped him develop a sense of awareness of his challenges and add speak with more confidence, zeal and vigor. His performances now shine with a presence, poise and charisma all his own. He turned his vocal barriers into learning opportunities. He reshaped & changed them to empower his communication success as a speaker and a leader.
Get Vocal Coaching
Sometimes we are blind to our own challenges an experts insight can be just what we need improve.
An expert coach will give you unbiased insights that will legitimately help improve your vocal delivery. At the Institute of Public Speaking our expert coaches are happy to help you overcome those vocal barriers that are impeding your success. Contact us and we’ll help you orchestrate your voice for success!
In this the 2nd part of a series (See Voice Tips for Speakers & Leaders Part I), we have explored some of the tips to help you improve your voice and vocal delivery 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 for tips like this in your inbox.