Speaking Tips: Public Speaking - Your Speaking Voice

The Importance of Voice in Persuasion

Tom Ware has been speaking to audiences since 1972.  During the past twenty years he's addressed some 43,000 people
Tom Ware has been speaking to audiences since 1972. During the past twenty years he's addressed some 43,000 people

How are 'tough guy's voice let him down

Welcome to Speaking Tips: Public Speaking - Your Speaking Voice.

Back in the 1950s William Holden starred in a film called, “The World of Susie Wong.” - You may have seen it. Good film.

The book was somewhat more explicit. The hero, a War Two veteran who had decided to become an artist, moved to Hongkong. He went to Wanchai and booked into a hotel called the Luquok. Unbeknown to him at the time, it was the sort of hotel that booked its rooms by the hour.

Anyway, our hero met Susie and, eventually, was captivated by her charms. However, Susie was a prostitute. She had other clients.

One day, feeling very jealous, our hero strode into Susie’s room to find that she had a young American sailor in there with her. The sailor looked tough. He was well-muscled, thick of limb and half a head taller than our hero- a Goliath. Things did not look promising.

And then the sailor spoke.

That’s when our hero knew he had him. No one with a tiny, baby-like voice like that could be tough.

“Get out, son.”

Goliath got out. His voice had given him away.


Practice voice exercises regularly

Just like any other muscle in the body, the 'muscles of voice' need to be regularly exercised.  This can be done by specific exercises or even by reading aloud daily.  Don't neglect to do this from time to time.  Keep those voice muscles fit.
Just like any other muscle in the body, the 'muscles of voice' need to be regularly exercised. This can be done by specific exercises or even by reading aloud daily. Don't neglect to do this from time to time. Keep those voice muscles fit.

How we look is only a part of the image: how we sound is more important

I’m sure all of you have come across the immaculately dressed businesswoman, tall, stately, almost regal. Black business suit. Appropriate high-heeled shoes and matching handbag. And you imagine her to be a high-flying, on-the-way- up business exec with one of the Fortune 500 companies.

-Then you hear here speak,

“Yah gonna go to da the show tonight, love?” And the whole illusion is shattered.

Voices are so important. Whether we are aware of it or not, we make snap evaluations and prejudiced assumptions on hearing a person speak for the first time. Our voice can “make or break” or opportunities. So it behooves us to be aware of our voices, and to make them as attractive and easy to listen to as our physiology will allow.

So how can we do this? And does it take long? Are there exercises I can do to make my voice attractive?

Yes there are.

so your speaking voice develops and you come across

One way to improve your delivery is to make 'vocal variety' a habit.   Read aloud to yourself from time to time, as if you were reading to an audience and wanting them to understand perfectly what you'e telling them.
One way to improve your delivery is to make 'vocal variety' a habit. Read aloud to yourself from time to time, as if you were reading to an audience and wanting them to understand perfectly what you'e telling them.

Speaking Tips: Public Speaking and Your Speaking Voice - Voice reveals both emotion and character

First, though, you have to know a little about how your voice works. You don’t have to be a medical doctor, but you do have to realize that your voice is very dependent on the flow of air that moves from your lungs and flows through you vocal cords, nose, and mouth and out through your lips. A good supply of air is crucial, crucial to your life, and important to your ability to speak. So keeping the lungs in good order is the first requirement.

There is also a psychological element to our voices: our psychology as well as that of the listener. How we feel about ourselves is very obvious from the way we speak. The ever-angry person has a particularly hard tone. Even when speaking casually about such things as the weather, this shows through. Likewise, a person who is calm, self-assured, and in charge of their emotions, reveals this to a large extent in their voice.

 

Delivery at your very best

When you get entirely involved with your delivery the gestures come automatically.
When you get entirely involved with your delivery the gestures come automatically.

How to develop a powerful voice

Our physical fitness is also apparent in our voice, as is our age. We know when we have a youngster or an old man on the other end of the phone line.

Okay, so how to exercise? I could give you a lot of articulation phrases. But I won’t do that here. In this short ‘educational’ I will present only two.

The first of these is to increase one’s power of projection. Here is what you can do.

You are travelling along in your car. There is another vehicle, perhaps fifty yards in front of you. Take a deep, diaphragmatic breath. Then open your mouth, flatten your tongue, and with considerable power, project your voice to a point just over the top of the car in front. Say:

“Ahhhhhhh.” Make it an elongated Ahhhhh, for as long as the breath hold out. Do this half a dozen times. If you do this just once a day, for a few weeks, you will develop a powerful voice that will project.

It is important to aim the voice, to “project” or “throw” it in the direction of your choice.

After a while this will become a habit whenever you are talking to an audience and some of the audience is at a considerable distance. You will not be shouting. You will be projecting.

 

with emotion, meaning and power

The speaker tells his story from his imagination and the words and gestures evoke the individual imaginations of the audience.
The speaker tells his story from his imagination and the words and gestures evoke the individual imaginations of the audience.

A few simple exercises will set you right

Okay, so what do you do to “limber up” the voice before giving a presentation which might last for, say 30 minutes or so?

What I do is a simple exercise which loosens up the face muscles around the mouth. Looking in the mirror (generally, as I’m combing my hair or putting on my tie before I leave) I simply say the letters: Q X QX QX a dozen times.

So there you have it. Two simple ways in which you can improve your speaking voice. I’ve used ‘em for years. You, too, can do the same….

For remember: People see us. They make their quick value judgments on what they see. But those value judgements don’t, generally, become set in their minds- until they hear you speak.

So speak well. Speak confidently. Speak clearly. And you’ll find yourself growing in the eye’s of the person most central in your life- your self.

I sincerely hope that you've got something out of this short article: Speaking Tips: Public Speaking - Your Speaking Voice. Keep tuned, there are more hubs coming up on this subject.

 

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