Impressions are usually influenced by the body language and speaking voice. Your voice is one of the most important aspects of public speaking.  And, when I refer to public speaking that means speaking one-on-one, to a small group of people or even voicing  information at a meeting.  An individual with a good speaking voice is able to deliver his messages effectively. A good voice is also pleasing to the public ears and will keep people glued to the person speaking. Your voice can make or break a good impression. And the good news is, good voice quality can be learned.

As a young college graduate, I learned quickly to steer clear of the “high-pitched” little girl sounding voice.  While youthful is good, in business it’s often equated with being “naive, inexperienced and a follower”.  I wanted to be perceived as a leader so I worked hard to gain command of my voice, not in a restrictive way, yet in a way that still expressed my personal brand with calculated clarity.  And, that took practice.

The Voice of a Leader

Being aware of how you actually sound in public is the initial step in becoming a good speaker. Knowing how you sound in public will make it easier for you to change voice according to your needs.

A confident voice has a moderate volume, clearly articulated, low pitch and a little bit faster. This type of voice implies sophistication, knowledge and authority. An energetic voice on the other hand is neither monotonous nor slow in rate. Efficient dynamic speakers are able to modulate intonation, inflection and volume simultaneously while talking.

A full resonant tone is well loved by audiences. This kind of tone needs the back of your throat to be open and your vocals folds lubricated and relaxed. When an individual gets tense or nervous, his throat and vocal cords often tighten which often results to higher pitch and stained thin sounds. The voice can sometimes quiver and this will often manifest anxiety.

Tips on how you can enhance your Speaking Voice

  • Articulate. It would be vital that you articulate every word. This will help minimize mumbling. Start practicing with tongue twisters. Make sure you articulate words crisply and quickly as possible. Practice your speech and know where you need to pause for breath.
  • Moderating the volume. Check whether you are speaking softly or loudly. While talking, ask your audience if your voice is audible. Try to get their responses as this will reduce hesitations and boost your confidence level.
  • Moderate your pace. If you speak quickly, people will have a hard time keeping up. And if you do it slowly, the audience will eventually get bored and lose their interest. Try to record your voice and analyze it. Get feedback from your friends and adjust your pace.
  • Postures & gestures. Try to maintain a good posture all the time. Stand tall and straight. This will help your lungs expand and increase its capacity. Stand with your legs that are shoulder width apart.
  • Practice your breath control. Take a deep breath and while exhaling, count up to ten. Slowly increase your volume with counting. Use the abdominal muscles and not the throat. Never let your larynx tense up.

A speaker’s rate may vary from 135 words/minute for a technical speech and around 200/minute when sharing a fairytale. Proficient speakers usually pronounce the ends of words and syllables in multi syllable words. People who speak too quickly may omit the end sounds or perhaps drop syllables from multi syllable words. This can result to slurred speech or a misunderstood message.

Efficient speakers can engage their audiences from the very beginning as they speak. They also pause effectively instead of using fillers such as ‘uhm ’or ‘er’. They can vary their volume, rate and pitch to give more significance to their message.

Your voice is a brilliant instrument and it is up to you to play it well. Each day, you are faced with many opportunities for you to practice speaking. Make your conversations more interesting and meaningful by improving your speaking voice.