How to Improve your Speaking Voice

“The time is always right to do what is right” a famous quote by Martin Luther King, the awe-inspiring American minister and leader of the Civil Rights Movement back in the 1950s. Martin who was known to speak with a confident and steady voice, transformed the minds of many when he delivered the historical “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Barack Obama, president of the United States from 2009 to 2017 was a charismatic speaker whom won the hearts of the Americans with his deep, soothing voice. Tony Robbins, author of the best selling book Awaken the Giant Within, is the world’s renown motivational speaker. Similarly, Tony commands his audience’s attention with a strong, powerful voice.

Barack Obama None of this happens on its own

It is common to think that an individual’s voice is something innate and that nothing can be done to change it. However, if you share this thought, think again.

Perhaps, the story of Margaret Thatcher, prime minister of Britain from 1979 to 1990 will inspire you to think on the other end of the spectrum. Margaret used to be criticised for speaking with a scratchy, shrill voice and was deemed incapable and less trustworthy as a political candidate.

Nevertheless, over the span of a few years, she managed to lower her pitch and developed a more authoritative tone. Her voice thus became one of her greatest strength. Margaret Thatcher is truly exemplary in her actions to overcome her challenges and transformed her voice to achieve greater heights in her political career.

Voice as an important role in speeches

Quantified Communications, a communications analytics company conducted a voice study which assess speeches of over 120 executives. Results showed that the voice of speaker matters twice as much as the content of the message. Voices that were breathy, rough, weak or strained were labelled negative. In contrast, voices that were smooth, strong or assertive were labelled positive. Hence, it is important to use your voice effectively as it affects how your audience perceive you as a speaker. Lifehack further elaborates how having a deep voice is critical to an individual’s success, with a deeper voice leading to credibility and confidence.

3 Steps to Improve your Speaking Voice

1.      Awareness

In almost everything that we do, being present in body and mind is arguably the most crucial factor in achieving and ensuring success. Many philosophers share the same thought of understanding and knowing oneself as the first step towards self-improvement. In order to evaluate your speaking voice, it is a must to record your voice for the purpose of evaluation. Only by doing this, will you be able to determine the areas of improvement. Some common areas of improvements during a voice evaluation are, articulation, pronunciation, tone, pace and volume.

2.      Prepare & Practice

After identifying areas of improvement, the next step would be to find solutions for it. It is critical to match the right solution to the identified area otherwise it would be rendered ineffective.

Tone – For example, if you find your tone monotonous, use emphasis appropriately. The most effective method is to emphasise on two to three important words in a sentence. This would ensure variation in your voice and prevents you from sounding monotonous. To understand more about using your tone effectively in speeches, read more on how to use appropriate tone of voice.

Volume – If you find yourself speaking too softly, practice diaphragmatic breathing. This type of breathing helps you to project your voice and speak louder. To understand diaphragmatic breathing, read more on how to project your voice and speak louder.

Pace – If you find yourself speaking too fast, make a conscious effort to include appropriate pauses in between the different clauses within a sentence, in between different sentence and after every idea. Read this article on grasping an appropriate pace and how to pace yourself when delivering a speech.

Once you have solutions to the different areas of improvements, practice it yourself by recording and tracking the progress you made.

3.      Apply

Self-practice can only do so much to enhance your competence and confidence. You need to apply what you have practiced in the real world, with real people. Application should be done not only in presentation or speech, but also in your day-to-day interactions with people.

One form of application could be delivering your speech in front of a close group of people (family, friends) and gather feedback from them. This can help you to achieve valuable insights from an audience point of view and take actions to improve from there.

Bonus Tip:

Take deep breaths before you speak!

As simple as it sounds, people are most nervous right at the moment before they take the stage. Taking deep breaths before speaking can not only calm your nerves but also helps you to produce a stronger voice when you start your speech. So, are you ready to transform your voice and deliver your speech at the next level?

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