Tips for improving vocal Variety
Have you ever listened to a recording of your voice and cringed? Perhaps you were surprised about how nasally or high-pitched it was, or how hard you were to understand. Perhaps in that moment you wished for a more soothing, pleasant-sounding voice. It must be remembered voice of every person is unique and engaging, we only have to train to remove the distractions in our voice, that suppress the quality of our natural voice.
We have discussed about vocal variety and its importance in previous post. Here we will be discussion about few steps to remove the distractions and improve our voice quality for public speaking.
Step 1- Speak-up. It's important to be heard when you speak, so raise your voice! If you tend to whisper, mumble or speak with your head down, it is much easier for people to get distracted and start ignoring you. Please note that this doesn’t mean you should be shouting from the word go. Shouting will only harm your vocal cord. You should rather vary your loudness of voice keeping in accordance to the situation and emotion in your speech. For example, if you're addressing a large group of people it will be necessary to speak loudly in order to project your voice. But in day to day conversation speaking loudly will give a wrong impression. By meaning Speak up you should be speaking in a confident voice just loud enough to be heard by your audience.
Step 2- Slow-down. Try to watch an object in the merry-go-round revolving in high speed. You would start feeling dizzy after some time. Speaking too fast does the same thing. You start loosing the audience interest as it becomes difficult for people to keep up with you or even understand what you're saying. Speaking too quickly is a bad it makes the audience to tune out and stop listening.
Therefore, it's important to slow down your speech by saying your words more slowly and pausing between sentences - this helps to add emphasis to what you're saying and gives you a chance to take a breath!
But remember that its not a good idea to speak too slowly. It can make your audience impatient and monotonous. They will just tune out or may even go to sleep.
The perfect speed varies from one audience to another. Maintain an eye contact with your audience gauge them, you will get to know what your correct speed range is. It is impossible to get a speed that is perfect for all, but you can easily get to the speed which is ok for maximum of your audience. Remember to alter your speed at which you speak as you give the speech emphasizing the situation. For example to communicate the sense of achievement you would increase your speed, but describing a tragedy you would lower the speed.
Step 3 - Enunciate. Speaking clearly is possibly the most important aspect of developing a good speaking voice. You need to pay close attention to each and every word you say - pronouncing it fully and correctly. You may have your local accent but make sure it doesn’t hamper the other persons understanding. Try ti open your moth and loosen your lips as you speak. This will not only help you to speak with your tonge and teeth in correct position, also will reduce the ummms and ahhhhs considerably.
Step 4 – Breathe.. Deep breathing is essential for a full, rich speaking voice. As we get up the stage and face the audience we tend to get nervous and start breathing too quickly and shallowly. This not only makes us more nervous but also changes our tone into a unnatural nasal tone.
Breathing should always be done from the diaphragm / stomach, not from the chest. Breathing should allow to fill up your belly. This deep breathing allows the lungs to suck in oxygen into the blood which helps in supplying more oxygen to your muscles and as a result it relaxes our body, help you to breathe deeper and project your voice more easily. It will also give you an air of confidence as you speak.
Try to breathe at the end of every sentence - if you use the deep breathing method, you should have enough air to get through the next sentence without having to pause in the mid-way for breath. This will also give your listeners a chance to absorb what you're saying.
Step 5 - Vary pitch: The pitch of your voice can have a real impact on the quality of your speech and the impact it makes on your listeners. In general, speaking in a shaky or unsteady pitch gives the impression of nervousness, while an even voice is more calming and persuasive don’t try to alter the natural pitch of your voice, just try to control it by not letting your nerves take control of it.
One of the better ways of practicing your pitch is to read text book loudly and record. Keep in mind that it's not necessary to maintain a steady pitch at all times - some words should be voiced in a higher pitch in order to add emphasis.