An often overlooked aspect of a presentation is your voice. I’m not talking about the things you say; this post isn’t about filler words or the context of your presentation, but about the actual quality of your voice. A study conducted at UCLA by Dr. Albert Mehrabian found that when visual, vocal and verbal sounds are inconsistent, the actual content of your presentation counts for a mere 7 percent of the entire message. Everyone’s paying attention to what you do. In fact, 55 percent of the message, according to Mehrabian, comes from your facial expressions and body language. The remaining 38 percent comes from your voice. Sure, it’s less of a factor than your posture, your gestures, and your facial expressions combined. But mastering your voice gives your message a 38 percent better chance of getting through. With that in mind, here are some tips for improving your voice quality.
Let yourself be heard…by yourself
Have you ever heard yourself on a recording and discovered that your voice sounded different than the way you hear it in your head? That’s because it does. Your voice enters your inner ear via vibrations in your chest, throat, and mouth. This is called bone-conditioned sound, because it hits your inner ear after traveling through the tissue of the head. All external sounds travel through the air, where they’re dispersed, then enter your ear. This is called air-conditioned sound. The latter sound type typically sounds less rich, higher in pitch. So one of the best ways to get an accurate idea of what you sound like is to leave yourself messages or speak into a recorder. You can try different things out and alter the pitch of your voice to get the best clarity.
Animate Your Voice
Some people think it’s best to sound casual when they speak. But if you sound too casual you may come off as dispassionate, monotone, or downright boring. Instead, focus on animating your voice, delivering key emphasis on important aspects, varying pitch and tone. With some practice your talks will become livelier, your audience more engaged.
Physical Vocal Support
There are a number of physical things you can do to improve voice quality. You can sit or stand up straight, which ensures your airway is unhindered. Take deep breaths; the more air the better. As you talk you can use your lower diaphragm to push the air back out, helping your voice to sound clear and confident. You should also focus on using the muscles in your tongue and mouth to articulate the words correctly and avoid slurring.
Paying attention to the actual quality of your voice is one of the best ways to captivate an audience. Though it may seem tedious, taking the time to learn the above steps is one of the best ways to improve your public speaking.
Looking for ways to improve your speaking abilities? Here are four more resources:
- Our Book on How to Make Meetings Great – Lessons from the Bored Room
- Our eBook on Webinars – How to Plan, Setup, and Execute a Successful Webinar
- Non-Verbal Communication Resource
- The Everything Guide to Public Speaking