A Duke University study found that CEO’s with lower-pitched voices ran larger companies, earned more money, and held onto their jobs longer. No wonder business executives, celebrities, and politicians often work with vocal coaches.
Even if your time and funds are limited, you can turn your voice into an asset. Take a look at these simple practices to help you polish your speech.
Caring for Your Voice
1. Breathe deeply. Breathing from your diaphragm instead of your chest will help you to project your voice and give you more confidence. At the same time, relaxing your mouth and throat gives you greater control.
2. Develop resonance. Humming is an easy way to warm up your voice. The lower you go into your chest, the more powerful you’ll sound.
3. Avoid strain. Swallowing is gentler than coughing when you need to clear your throat. Keep irritants like alcohol, smoke, and dairy products to a minimum. Rest your voice if you find that you’ve overdone it by talking too long or too loudly.
4. Pace yourself. Rapid speech is great if you’re a race track announcer. Otherwise, try breaking your thoughts down into phrases just long enough so that you can say them comfortably with a single breath.
Connecting With Your Audience
1. Focus on friendly faces. If crowds make you nervous, scan the room for individuals who are smiling and making eye contact. Imagine you’re talking directly with them.
2. Tell stories. It’s easier to get your message across when you use interesting and memorable stories. When you enjoy your own tales, your enthusiasm shines through.
3. Encourage conversation. Great speakers also know how to listen and promote interaction. Show up early so you can chat with others beforehand. Invite questions and comments.
4. Give generously. While you’re working on the technical aspects of your voice and performance, keep your purpose in mind. What do you want to share with others? How can they benefit from what you have to say?
More Tips for Dynamic Speaking
1. Practice regularly. Voice training is like any other skill. Take advantage of opportunities to work on your performance. Record yourself so you can identify your natural strengths and areas you want to work on.
2. Study others. See how presidents and anchormen engage their listeners. Watch videos, listen to podcasts, and read transcripts. Take notes about ideas you want to borrow and build on. Adapt their lessons to suit your own style.
3. Eliminate fillers. Too many “ums” and “uhs” can undermine you credibility. Plan for transitions so you won’t be fumbling for what to say next. If you need a second to reflect, try pausing instead of filling the gap with meaningless language. Tuning out internal and external distractions can also help you stay on track.
4. Watch your body language. Mastering nonverbal communication will reinforce the positive impression your voice makes. Stand up straight so you look open and relaxed. Use gestures to emphasize key points and keep things lively.
5. Acknowledge your feelings. Even movie stars and self-help gurus can have stage jitters. When you’re feeling anxious about addressing a group, accept your feelings and transform them into positive excitement. Take the focus off yourself and concentrate on how to help others.
Change your speech habits from dull to dynamic. Making the most of your own natural voice will help you to communicate your ideas and enjoy more success.