Wednesday, 10 February 2016


Ever heard of the saying “It’s not what you say it’s how you say it?”

Does your voice put your audience to sleep? Does it put you to sleep?

Do you find it hard to convey emotions with your voice?

Are you easy to listen to, or does your voice let you down?

Toastmasters Project 6 – Vocal Variety guides you to harness your own voice. The previous projects were about communicating coherent ideas, simply, and to the point. This project takes it a notch higher making you aware of how to use your voice to communicate. The most interesting thing is that we innately know how to use our voices to convey excitement, joy, surprise love or sadness as these are all key ingredient of our daily and we unconsciously use it almost all the time.

In speech or public speaking we are conscious that our voice has to communicate the emotion we have to say, and that’s where something strange happens and we forget the very basics. Remember that our voice is the best tool available in us and we know how to use it. 

A good speaking voice should be balanced between extremes of volume, pitch, rate and quality.

Volume: Can you recall your voice when you are angry? It becomes loud. And when we have to say something really important / secretive to a person we unconsciously lower our voice. The project asks us to practise this day-to-day activity when we do our public speaking. Also remember speaking too softly for a long time will annoy listeners too, as they struggle to grasp your words. Volume level depends on the size and shape of the room. However, you should also vary your volume level for emphasis. Follow your emotions. Don’t over do it!!!!

Pitch: The pitch of a sound is how high or low it is on the musical scale. Vary your pitch as you speak - droning on in a monotone voice will quickly put listeners to sleep, and speaking in a squeaking voice will make them want to cover their ears. A convenient way to hit the different pitch correctly is to play with the emotional aspect of the speech. If you are happy bring out the excited, full of excitement pitch, if you are sad bring it down to the contain pitch

Rate: Rate or the speed of your speech, this is the number of words we speak per minute. If we speak too fast then the audience will not be able to keep pace, hence they will be unable to comprehend what you are saying. If you are too slow the audience will loose their patience alongside their interest. Vary your pace. Remember Pitch and Rate goes hand in hand to express the emotions. Your pace should increase as you are in the excitement pitch, but should decrease when you are in the content pitch.

Another important aspect of the rate is the pause. In the world of public speaking pauses are your punctuation. When we speak out loud, we can’t rely on punctuation to help our audience follow along. Instead, create emphasis or convey emotion and humour by using the pause as spoken punctuation. Pausing adds power, drama, to your speech. Used well your silences will literally speak LOUDER than your words. (For more details refer to the previous article TIPS OF USING PAUSES IN PUBLIC SPEAKING)

Quality: Your voice should convey friendliness, naturalness and confidence, and be enjoyable and pleasant to the ears. It should be expressive showing a wide range of emotions.

Use vocal variety when you are writing the speech.

Don’t just write a speech and try to incorporate vocal variety on it. As you write, edit and rehearse your speech, incorporate the words, phrases, Quotes to incorporate the vocal variety. A quote when delivered with right vocal variety creates a lasting impression in the listener. (for tips of how to use Quotes refer to previous article on “HOW TO USE QUOTES IN YOUR SPEECH: BENEFITS AND TIPS)

Exaggerate your words if your speech allows.” The car is tooooooooooo long”. The exaggerated too is used to emphasise the word long.

Align you voice with your body

Your voice should align with the language of your body. If your voice is expressive so should be your body. Remember that your body should speak the same language as your voice.

I used my experience of moving houses as the project speech. This enabled me of exaggerating some of the activities and then co-relating with the world. The speech will be detailed in my next article

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