When you give your next speech, how do you think that your audience will be judging you? It turns out that, not unsurprisingly, a big part of how your audience will be judging you is going to be based on how your voice sounds to them. You may not be aware of it, but as humans, we are wired to have our emotions, memories, and in some cases even thoughts automatically triggered when we hear someone else’s voice. What this means for you as a speaker is that you are going to want to make sure that your audience likes listening to your voice so that they can experience the importance of public speaking. How can you go about making this happen?
Evaluating Your Own Voice
In order to understand how you sound to your audience, the very first thing that you are going to have to do is to take the time to evaluate your own voice. After you’ve given a speech, you need to think about how it went. Ask yourself if your voice came across as being influential or was it ineffective? When you were delivering your speech, did you feel as though the words that you were using was supporting what you were saying? Was there anything in your voice that may have betrayed the message that you were trying to deliver?
All of these are great questions to ask. However, if you are like most speakers you’ll have a great deal of difficulty trying to answer them. The reason that this is so hard to do is because we normally don’t listen to our own voice. If you want to be able to evaluate your own voice, then you are going to have to record yourself. It can be helpful if you get someone else to listen to your speech also. Your goal here should be to see if you can uncover any areas that may be causing you problems and if so, then come up with ways to fix them.
End With A Bang
So just exactly what kind of problems might a public speaker be facing? One of the more common problems that we all may face has to do with how we go about ending our sentences. Sure, we may start a sentence strong. However, something happens about half way through that sentence. By the time that we’ve reached the end of the sentence, our last few words may have trailed off enough that it could be either difficult or perhaps even impossible for our audience to hear what we are saying.
A key indicator that this could be a problem that you are facing is that you find yourself running out of breath as you get to the end of a sentence. The problem that this is going to cause is that your audience may have difficulty hearing you and they may end up feeling as though your ideas were incomplete. You need to take the time to deliver your words with equal energy so that your audience will believe in your commitment to what you are saying.
As though trailing off at the end of a sentence was not bad enough, it turns out that things can get even worse. Sometimes we mumble. Now mumbling can be confused with the trailing off at the end of a sentence problem, but it can happen anywhere during a sentence. You may be aware that you are doing this simply because for the longest time people have been saying to you “can you repeat that?”
So what causes this mumbling? What causes mumbling is when the speaker has poor enunciation. There are a lot of different reasons why this can occure. When a speaker is feeling a great deal of either stress or tension, then what can happen is that they start to hold all of this in their neck, jaw, and even their mouth. When they do this, all of sudden it can become very difficult for them to open their mouth all the way. The result of this is that their words start to become mumbled.
Bring It Out Of The Gutter
As strange as it may sound, some speakers deliberately modify how their voice sounds. Often what they will do is to lower their voice down as far as it can go. They then change their speaking style so that certain syllables get lengthened and end up vibrating in the back of your throat. The ultimate result of all of this manipulation is that the speaker speaks with a low pitched scratchy almost gravelly sound. This technique is most common in young women who are trying to sound like celebrities that they want to emulate.
The problem with doing this is that your audience may not respond to it well. Older audience members may perceive this type of voice as being annoying. A study that has been done of different types of voices revealed that this type of voice were seen as being less competent and less desirable. What this means for a speaker is that we need to stay away from using this type of voice while we are giving a speech.
What All Of This Means For You
As a speaker, how our audience sees us is very important to us because we want them to experience the benefits of public speaking. It turns out that one of the key factors that affects how an audience will be seeing us during a speech is our voice. This is why we have to take the time to listen to our own voice. We need to be looking for areas that could be turning our audience off and finding ways to fix them.
There are a number of different things that can be going on with our voice that can be taking away from the message that we are trying to deliver to our audience. The first of these is that we can be trailing off at the end of our sentences. When we do this, our audience has to strain to hear what we are saying and they may not catch our final words. We will start to sound incomplete. Additionally, we may mumble. Mumbling happens when we are not fully opening our mouths. We may be doing this because we are feeling stress in our head and mouth. Some speakers actually modify their voice to make it lower and more gravely in order to sound like certain celebrities. This can go over poorly with your audience.
The great thing about our voices is that we are in control of them! We can change and modify our voices as we see fit. We need to take the time to understand how our audience hears us and then we need to take steps to make ourselves sound even better to them. The better we sound, the more they will be impressed by our speech!
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™
Question For You: What do you think the best way to evaluate your current voice is?
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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
As we are putting together our next speech, we may get caught up in the moment and the importance of public speaking. We have so many great things that we want to share with our audience that we we keep adding more and more content to our speech in order to make sure that we share all of it with them. This, of course, brings up a significant problem for every speaker. We have only been allocated so much time in which to give our speech. We need to make sure that we don’t run over the time that we’ve been given. What’s a speaker to do?