How to have greater vocal variety

Vocal Variety Matters – So Speak Up!

You have a good clear voice. You can be heard across the room, yet every time you speak, someone tells you it was a good speech but all it needed was some more vocal variety. What is the matter with these people? What are they talking about?

Pssst! They’re talking about the way you use your voice to create interest, excitement and or emotional involvement. That’s vocal variety!

Whether you realize it or not, according to Roy Hanschke, founder of Voice Personality: your voice has a personality that tells your story. It says you are capable, interesting, competent, incompetent, boring, exciting.

What your voice conveys, true or false, that’s the story your listener accepts as your reality. What do you want your voice to say about you? I thought so! So let’s discuss vocal variety.

Vocal Variety is achieved by varying your pitch, volume and timing when you speak. When we add articulation and linguistics, we complete the voice picture. So here are some tips:

1. Examine your speaking rate.

The rate at which you speak actually affects the way your information is received. Speaking too slowly makes it difficult for your listeners to keep their attention on what you’re saying. Speaking too quickly has the same effect. You want to speak at a rate of about 120 – 126 words per minute, this is fast enough to avoid boring and slow enough to be understood.

2. Understand range.

In speaking, range is very much like in singing. It refers to the highs and the lows in your voice. A singer may use a range of 12 – 25 notes but the average speaker may use just five. Think of that on a musical scale. It is equivalent to “doh – ray – me – fa – so” a very limited range. Practice expanding your range by finding appropriate material and reading it aloud, each time trying to expand your range of “notes.”

3. Pay attention to your pitch.

This is the “highness” or “lowness” in the sound of your voice. If your voice is squeaky, shrill, flat or guttural, then you may wish to work on your pitch. The ideal speaking pitch sounds low to medium, clear, full and varied.

4. Use volume effectively.

Voice volume is to do with the loudness to the voice. This should be appropriate in strength and intensity and should be varied in order to add emphasis and dramatic impact to your speech. Crescendo – when the voice moves from soft sounds to loud powerful ones – are helpful to expression and meaning.

5. You can write for vocal variety.

In its simplest form, linguistics is the study of how people use words and form them into sentences. In other words, linguistics is how we make meaning with our speech. This gives us the opportunity to actually select words that facilitate vocal variety. For example, try saying the 23rd psalm out loud and notice the smooth connected tones with no breaks in between.

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Lorna Barrow’s training in public speaking spans twenty years and include training and coaching thousands of people to achieve their public speaking goals. Before your next speech, download my Basic Steps to Public Speaking Handbook from the Purchase Zone at so that you can stand up and speak and sit down and smile.

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