Speaking Tips: Public Speaking and the Sound of Your Voice

The author speaking at a gathering of Probians in Sydney.
The author speaking at a gathering of Probians in Sydney.

How we sound is so important

Welcome to Speaking Tips: Public Speaking and the Sound of Your Voice.

People judge us at first hand in only four ways: How we look. What we do. What we say, and How we say it. This page will deal briefly with the last of these – How we say it.

People do judge us by how we sound. A whiny, winging voice, and we make an entirely different judgment to when we hear a strong, authoritive voice. But there more to it than that.

Vocal variety creates interest.

Vocal variety creates interest. Interest is held by Pitch, Pace and Pause. But pitch, pace and pause should be varied subject to the ideas and messages we wish to convey. This usually follows in natural, everday conversation. We need to adhere to the same way of speaking when we’re addressing an audience, i.e. naturally - with some provisos

Many people do speak too quickly for an audience.

Generally, in speaking to an audience, the larger the group, the longer the time needed for the audience to grasp what has been said. This might not mean slowing up the rate of speaking so much as lengthening the pauses. But many people do speak too quickly. Be aware of you own normal pace.

The author as an after-dinner speaker.
The author as an after-dinner speaker.

Adjust your pace to the size of the audience.

Be aware, too, of the audience ‘norm’ in speaking pace. Generally, city dwellers speak much more rapidly than those from the countryside. People from the outback of Australia, for example, might have a much slower, measured way of talking than those from Sydney or Melbourne. Adjust to the audience. It is not their responsibility to ensure they understand what you’re saying. It is yours.

Vocal Variety also comprises changes in Volume over varying time-lengths. For example, think of Adagio and Staccato in music. It pays to vary the tempo.

Speaking Tips: Public Speaking and the Sound of Your Voice.

All of this is subject to our Voice Range. And voice range is dependent upon such things as our breath, which depends on our physical fitness, our posture and even our emotional state. Most people speak within one octave. However, a really gifted world-class singer can traverse two, even three octaves. Practice so you can cover your whole octave without strain.

Once you become known there are speaker opportunities everywhere.
Once you become known there are speaker opportunities everywhere.

A voice can reveal a lot about its owner's character.

Also remember: A warm, friendly voice draws a favourable response: a cold, aggressive, sarcastic or unfriendly voice repels. The sound of a person’s voice is very indicative of not only their education, but their character. At least, this is how we perceive it.

Clarity, good enunciation, understandable pronunciation are essential.

The words and sounds being uttered by our voice need to be Understandable. Understanding comes from Knowing what the words mean. In turn, this might well depend upon not only the listener’s knowledge of those words but on: Clarity, familiar Pronunciation and good Enunciation.

So, if you want to improve not only your ability to speak in public but also to enhance how you perceive yourself and are perceived by others, it is worth investing the time in developing a pleasant, easy-to-listen-to voice.

I hope you gained something from reading Speaking Tips: Public Speaking and the Sound of Your Voice.

Keep happy.

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4 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Great tips and advice, Tom.


chspublish profile image

chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

Hi tom, I have really paid attention to what you've said about how we speak and the size of the audience. Very good advice. Thank you.


Simon Raybould - public speaking trainer 5 years ago

Hi - good advice; may I pick one detail though? it's not so much a good idea to work to the size of the audience as it is to work to the size of the room. There's a whole list of reasons why this is, but the obvious one is that if there's a small audience at the back of a bit room..... are you going small or big? :)

Simon


Tusitala Tom profile image

Tusitala Tom 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

You're right, of course, Simon. The way to handle a small audience in a large room is to get them to move into a tight group as close to the speaker as practicable. But I've already dealt with this in another of my Speaking Tips Hubs.

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