3 key pillars of vocal confidence training
Worrying about that presentation coming up? You know what you want to say, but you’re not confident your audience is getting the message? It could be your voice that’s letting you down. One thing is for your sure: if your voice is not working with you to reinforce your key ideas your audience may well become bored or distracted. In that case it’s unlikely they will retain information or leave with a positive impression of your pitch. In today’s busy world of relentless information it’s vital to get your presentation across in a dynamic and engaging way.
Posture and breath are the foundation of a grounded voice. We are often completely unaware of the impression our posture is making on our audience. But did you know that the way you align your spine can also have a huge impact on the sound of your voice? A hunched spine restricts movement of the diaphragm, the flexible parachute-like muscle which allows us to breathe effectively for speech. Optimum breathing coordination supports the sound produced by the vocal folds and enables us to sustain a clear continuous sound with which to articulate speech.
If you are struggling to reach the end of sentences, or your voice cuts in and out as you speak making it difficult to be heard you may benefit from some guided exercises to ground your voice through posture and breathing coordination.
Clear speech also depends on the muscles of articulation which shape the speech sounds. Once the voice sound is produced at the vocal folds it resonates within the cavity of the mouth. The articulators, the moving parts of the mouth, ‘play’ the sound by guiding it towards different surfaces to produce the sounds of vowels and consonants. Clear speech begins with accurate position of the tongue and soft palate to channel the voice to the correct ‘sounding board’ ie. the hard palate, lips, teeth or nose cavity. If your diction lacks muscularity, or you are speaking in a non-native language, you may be misheard or misunderstood. Following a professional evaluation of your speech, specialized training can improve the precision of targeted speech sounds and allow you to express yourself intelligibly and fluidly.
What makes a voice engaging? Accents and individuals vary greatly in their use of melody and rhythm to assist meaning. Some speakers may be reticent to vary the highs and lows of their voice as they fear it may sound overly flamboyant. However English in particular uses pitch (notes) and volume to draw attention to key syllables, (unlike French). Effective presenters in English also vary melody (pitch) to highlight the key words in their argument. Indeed listeners of English are so conditioned to hearing these rhythms of speech that they may lose the thread of your argument without them! Effective presenters in English vary melody (pitch) to highlight the key words in their argument. Pace (speed) of speech also plays a key role in giving your audience enough time to process content and allows your argument to resonate emotionally for greater impact. Again, a qualified speech professional will analyse your vocal delivery and provide practical exercises to sensitise your musical ear and learn to ‘play’ your voice to maximum effect.