Why can’t we all sound like James Earl Jones?
Wouldn’t it be great to have a voice as silky smooth as his? It feels like it would be so much easier to captivate and inspire our audiences.
But the thing is, for most of us, when we listen to recordings of our own voice, we think we sound more like Iago from Aladdin.
The reality is, you’re probably a much harsher critic of your own voice than anybody who’s listening to you.
There are, however, certain things to be mindful of to help you present with a voice that connects with your audience, rather than distracting them from your content.
And the answer is not to try to sound like James Earl Jones.
You’ll wind up coming across as inauthentic and you’ll lose touch with your unique voice as a presenter. Your listeners want the real you.
The question is, how do you find your real voice?
This blog will give you 7 keys to speaking with authenticity, resonance, and in a way that makes your audience want to listen.
Many vocal problems can be traced to improper breathing habits.
Your breathing is the fuel for your voice and the source of its power (or lack thereof).
Breathe deeply from the diaphragm, not the chest.
Before you begin your presentation, take several deep breaths through the nostrils, exhaling through the mouth.
As you present, pause for two to three seconds occasionally and take a deep breath.
The audience will appreciate the pause as it allows them to absorb your message, even though it may feel to you like it is an eternity.
Make sure that you always “speak to the back of the room,” projecting your voice so that all can hear.
You can increase the volume of your voice by exhaling more fully.
To speak softer, exhale more slowly with greater control.
Your diaphragm is the accelerator that modulates the speed and amount of breath you put into your voice.
Use some variation in your volume to keep the interest of the audience.
You can also add variety to your presentation by varying the pace of your voice.
As you share an exciting point, you may wish to pick up the speed.
When making an important point you want the audience to remember, slow down.
Be aware of any tendencies you might have to speak so quickly that the audience members don’t catch your meaning.
Ask a friend to sit in the back of the room and give you a hand signal to “slow down” if you are speaking too quickly.
As with volume and pace, your voice pitch will communicate best when you use a variety of high and low tones.
A constant high pitch can be irritating to the listeners, while a constant low tone can become monotonous or boring.
Usually when you are excited or enthusiastic, your voice tone rises.
To produce a lower tone, inhale and exhale deeply, allowing the air to vibrate freely.
Is your tone emotively matching the content you’re discussing?
Stay emotionally invested and in tune with your content by remembering what your audience has to gain or lose.
Never lose sight of that, no matter how many times you’ve rehearsed or delivered the same presentation.
It’s easy to trail off at the end of words or sentences. Especially ones that end in “ing” and are more commonly delivered as “in’”.
There’s nothing wrong with having a conversational tone. But be sure to finish every word and sentence with conviction and enthusiasm.
We all have them.
What are your common filler words?
Um? Err? Uh? Like? Right?
They can be annoying and distracting for our learners.
It’s better to not say anything than to say one of these filler statements.
The deeper issue is challenging yourself to increase your vocabulary, so that you can always be varied in your transitions.
And one of the best ways to increase your vocabulary is to spend more time reading and listening to other presenters.
So which of those seven keys to a great presentation voice do you already do especially well? Which one stands out as the one you want to work on most?