When it comes to developing better delivery in public speaking, how you use your voice is an integral part in being received with pleasure by your audience. It is vitally important for all speakers to deliver with style and finesse without appearing insincere or arrogant. Your voice is unique to you and during public presentations there are a variety of nuances that occur that you need to control and/or take advantage of.
Our voices consist of five characteristics. The pitch of your voice refers to the high and low sounds that we utter. When you are nervous, the pitch of our voice almost always goes up a little as our vocal cords tighten with the anxiety we feel. This is one main reason to try and relax as much as possible. Secondly, the volume at which we speak indicates our intensity and can be used for dramatic effect at appropriate times. Thirdly, the rate at which we speak can and must be controlled. Often in an attempt to complete a thought, we will rush while our minds work faster than our lips. I have listened to speakers who race at such a pace that our listening capacities can barely keep up. But if you speak too slowly, you can become monotonous and boring, so keep the pace somewhere in between these two extremes. Fourthly, what makes each person’s voice unique is referred to as quality and there is not a whole lot you can do about the quality of your voice, but even the most unique voices you have heard in movies or on television can still be harnessed for effective delivery. And, lastly, articulation is the characteristic of speaking clearly and enunciating correctly. The English language has many examples of words that are commonly mispronounced. These can be very distracting to an audience if they are pondering for a time what you have said and then missing out on what you are saying after. So it is important that you “speak with style” as I put it.
1. Be accurate-use the correct words to convey your ideas. This may require of you to expand your vocabulary and learn words beyond the basic level.
2. Be conscious of clarity while you speak-too sophisticated of language may sound learned and professional, but if your audience is struggling to understand, your message with be lost in the translation.
3. Be appropriate-aside from not overdoing the in-depth language and overuse of jargon, make sure you avoid any use of profanity or vulgar slang. And if you choose to be humorous, beware of using anything that could be misconstrued as ethnic bashing, religious intolerance, or sexual insensitivity.
4. Balance-often you have a limited amount of time to speak so it is important to pace yourself, not just for time’s sake, but for a balance of elaboration of your main points. Your material is important in its entirety so you need to speak in a balanced fashion with not too much or too little as you cover your information.
In general terms, you can improve your vocalization for speaking in public by applying certain practices. Breathing is very important. Aside from keeping you alive, you must learn to breathe appropriately while you speak. There are times your anxiety will force you to speak on at some length and you will run out of breath. Remember to take breath pauses; it will make your delivery more interesting to listener to. And for excellent air intake, learn to breathe from your diaphragm rather than just your throat. The greater intake of oxygen will keep you more alert and your delivery sharper. Next, work on your pronunciation. If you are unclear as to how to say certain words, check them out with someone who knows, so your speaking is clearly understood.
My final point is one which many speakers need to work on: avoid upward inflections at the ends of sentences. What does this mean? Often when you are nervous or not familiar with speaking publicly you will end a sentence on an upward pitch. This is very annoying to listen to and can call into question your knowledge of what you are speaking about. Work on this point and sound confident when you speak. It takes practice but like with anything, practice makes for better results.