Delivering a speech or talk that has impact essentially has two elements; what you say and how you say it. This is true for any form of spoken communication whether you are delivering a presentation to a large audience, holding a team meeting or trying to convince your better half that they do want to go on a caravanning holiday along the east coast of Britain.
You can have the best content in the world, but if you don’t deliver it well, there is little chance it will register with your audience. In this article we are going to look at a few tips about how to use your voice.
Some speakers are concerned about their accent. Although it is human nature for people to be judgmental, there is nothing you can do about where you were born. Remember, more people act positively towards accents than they do negatively. The only time you need to address your accent is if nobody can understand you. If you do try changing your accent, you lose part of your personality and in turn that can make your presentation appear stifled and less natural. So whatever your accent, keep it. Revel in it. And look to the other aspects below for areas to improve.
Pitch or intonation
It is VITAL that you vary the tone of your voice. Your pitch is the melody – the interest level in your voice. Avoid a monotone at all costs. To help you with this there are some tips:
- Raise you voice…speak louder – this will avoid you speaking in a flat pitch
- Keep your chin at least horizontal – lowering your head flattens your pitch
- Use your arms and hands to gesture – this helps your tone vary naturally
This will naturally depend on the venue. If you are speaking to a handful of people in a small meeting room, you can be almost conversational. Most corporate venues have solid walls and plenty of wood and glass. These are all very reflective for your voice. But be mindful that people are like sponges for sound. Our bodies just soak it up. So with a larger group- you really will have to speak MUCH louder to be heard.
If you’re offered a microphone, practise, do a sound check so you can you feel comfortable presenting with it.
Speaking at a higher volume that you ordinarily would helps raise your energy, which will then carry over to your audience. But remember to vary it. Speak loudly for authority and enthusiasm, and drop your volume to invite careful listening.
The pace of a presentation is not just about the speed in which you talk, but also the amount of ideas you mention per minute. Even when you have time constraints, avoid overloading your audience with too many ideas at once. Vary the pace. However nice and easy your speed may be, anything that stays the same can become boring. Speak in a conversational style and vary your speed as you would in an everyday conversation.
To recap, when you are making a presentation, you’ll probable have to speak louder than you realise…particularly when to 20 people or more. Vary your tone and pace. And avoid cramming in too many facts and figures. To engage your listeners, be engaged in the subject yourself. And if you’re not, then be brief!