How to Use Your Voice Effectively

Clearly for a professional singer the voice is their most precious instrument. It needs to be developed and it needs to be taken care of. Different nuances and levels of expression are developed and revealed over time.

For the speaker it is much the same. Quite literally the vocal chords are the medium that vibrates the air, that sends the message, that resonates in the listener’s ear-drum. An unappealing, grating or monotonous delivery will create resistance in the listener, regardless of the value of the content.

Initially when helping a speaker develop their vocal range we focus on the 3 ‘p’s: pitch, pace and pause.

Pitch covers two areas of expression:

i. raising and lowering the voice as required to create tonal variety

ii. effective and varied use of volume and projection

We need to develop a natural, relatable style of delivery. These days the ‘declaiming orator’ seems a bit over the top to most of us, nevertheless it is still vital to be aware that every nuance that may seem effective under your own ear needs to be exaggerated for an audience. Clearly the bigger the room, the bigger the audience, the more this becomes essential.

Pace, when combined with pitch adds the ‘third dimension’. To be able to naturally moderate the speed, the pitch and volume in different combinations can give infinite colour and variety to the polished, well-rehearsed speaker.

The pause is a valuable tool in its own right. Its use can be varied and dramatic; whether for instance speeding up, increasing volume and pitch to reach a dramatic pause, or gently winding down to a natural silence to allow the audience to digest a significant point or opinion.

Articulation and clarity of speech are also important in delivering an effective presentation. Many great singers are able to combine clear diction with a very natural delivery. A singer like Frank Sinatra is worth listening to for the balance he achieves between ease and clarity.

In considering the voice and how it can be used to best effect, it can be very useful for a speaker to listen to the rhythm and nuances of music, particularly classical music, which can greatly help to develop natural rhythm and flow, as well as giving hints on pace, pitch and balance.

Please remember that the voice is the speaker’s primary tool of communication. The voice has infinite possibilities in creating light, colour and interest for the audience. Take time out to develop the voice and you’ll have a massive impact on the audience and on the those who book speakers.

Article courtesy of College of Public Speaking & Presentation Skills – London

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