Your voice is an endlessly versatile instrument – with the smallest changes in tone, volume and inflection you can express the full range of emotions from depression to joy, from enthusiasm to lethargy, from pessimism to optimism.
When presenting inject variations in tempo, volume, tone, etc. to make what you are saying interesting and to underline and emphasize key points with the emotional depth and color only your voice can add.
How to make great use of your voice
- Always start your talk with a strong voice on high volume (take a deep breath into your diaphragm before you speak to eliminate any initial squeakiness).
- When making a critical point slow down – don’t be afraid to slow down to a very slow and deliberate one-word-at-a-time pace for really critical points.
- Use the dramatic pause. 2-3 seconds is like an eternity in a presentation – the sudden silence will jolt to full consciousness those whose attention has drifted and grab their attention again. Use the pause when you have said something key that you want to have sink in with the audience. Silence makes people take note – makes them replay in their minds what you just said in an effort to understand why you’ve suddenly gone quiet. Accompany the pause with a slow scan of the faces in front of you.
- Use a quick pace to convey your excitement or enthusiasm for a topic. If you find a point exciting then let your voice tell the audience so. Use a slow pace with a lower tone and lower volume to convey seriousness or sadness. If you’ve a solemn message drop the speed, tone and volume way down.
- Use volume – build it up in a crescendo effect as you work through points to your most critical point. As you work your way higher each successive point feels more important than the preceding point. Use volume to express surprise or anger. A suddenly louder statement really gets attention.
- Drop the volume to get attention. Low volume is almost as successful in grabbing people’s attention as high volume – drop it low enough that they almost feel that they have to lean forward to hear you.
Great speakers use their voices’ versatility to drive their messages deep into the emotional parts of their listeners’ subconscious.
A great book on developing a ‘star like’ charismatic voice is ‘Love Your Voice’ by Roger Love (a successful Hollywood voice coach).
Work hard on polishing and using your voice well (to add even more color use imagery in your presentations and talks).
Got any tips for improving presentations?
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