Your voice is a selling tool and can give you a competitive advantage! If your voice is easy to listen your customers will both hear your message and remember it.
When we’re nervous or tired our voices can get monotonous. To avoid this, and develop an engaging way of speaking, follow my tips.
Your speaking workout
Imagine you are a violinist getting ready to play a wonderful piece of music. You must hold your violin the right way to produce expressive sounds. You need to give your body the same attention to have a beautiful speaking voice.
Be flexible and relaxed
If you feel tense and hunch your body you won’t look good or sound good. If you find a comfortable, flexible body alignment you will look alert and ready to speak. Imagine that your body is a column. Your feet need to be slightly apart or one foot a little in front of the other. No wide apart stance or crossed ankles. That way your body will be supported and you can move freely.
A great warm up is the rag doll exercise: to both relax straighten up your posture. You release tension by gently, slowly allowing your head to drop forwards, then your shoulders and torso , arms floppy. As you do this breathe out.
Then slowly, slowly uncurl yourself bringing the head up last as it is the heaviest part of the body. As you uncurl breathe in calmly and then once upright gently breathe out. You will now be standing with great posture and your voice will carry.
Let your voice ring out
Our voice starts with the breath that comes up from our lungs and travel through our voice box and mouth before reaching our audience. We also breathe calmly during an expressive pause in our speech.
The key point is that we need to train ourselves to avoid stressful, shallow, high-in-the-chest breathing. Instead we want to breathe using our full lung capacity. This means we can speak for longer on one breath and be more expressive.
You can practice taking deep breaths while you watch TV or wait for a train!
Remember you need your breath to be free to carry your voice to the back of the room. Good breathing and good posture will go a long way to achieving this.
Keep drinking water
Remember your voice needs humidity to work well. Speakers should always carry a bottle of water. Take regular sips during warm up and always have water with you during your presentation.
Listen and learn
If you record your voice and listen back you’ll hear what you sound like to other people (we sound very different from the outside than the inside).
One way to improve your vocal variety is to read aloud – both your own words and those of other people (from a novel, poem, an article). If you practised 10 minutes of reading aloud a day following your vocal warm up you’ll soon find an improvement in your voice.
Firstly, read the text silently to yourself. Look for the meaning of the words.
Then read the text out loud expressing the author’s meaning and emotion: happy, frustrated, sad, funny.
Take a rest and read the passage silently again two times. You are allowing the words to play on your imagination and open the door to expression Read aloud again.
Record to hear the differences between your first and later reading. You’ll be aware of improved vocal range. You’ll sound more interesting!
Keep practicing. You aim is to always get your message across with impact.