How to Develop Your Unique Presentation Voice
The tone and vocal quality with which we give our audiences information will greatly impact how much they remember and how they likely they are to act on your ideas.
If your tone or style turns off your audience, you might as well talk to an empty room.
But what’s the perfect presentation voice for hooking your audience’s attention?
The answer is simple: yours.
If you strip away habits and return to the way you were born to speak, your voice will engage the room. The way you speak simply needs to be a vessel for your personality and the feeling of the message you are delivering.
Here are a few things to try — and a few to avoid — in order to achieve this:
1. AVOID BEING TOO FORMAL
People often think that delivering a presentation with findings and data means that they have to be formal.
This is a natural reaction when you think about speaking in a large room full of people who will mostly be wearing suits and serious expressions. You might think you have to mimic the formal style you’ve seen others use.
However, this leads to a lack of variety, expression, and emotion. We tend to separate our professional and personal lives, meaning that we end up being impersonal at work.
So, avoid losing empathy and excitement in your presentation simply because it’s about business — business is done with people and so it must connect with emotions as well.
2. AVOID BEING SMALL
Some people are really good at one-on-one conversations, so they will assume they can use the same voice on stage. They think because they generally get along well with “everybody,” that they can just be themselves on stage.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always translate well to a large space.
Think about the differences between screen and stage acting. Screen acting relies on details and subtle changes in expression or tone. But if those same actions were used in a theatre production, most people wouldn’t connect with the story on stage.
You have to physically fill that larger space with your voice and your body.
Just relying on the tools you use in day-to-day conversation won’t cut it.
3. AVOID USING ARMOUR
People often say to me they find it so much easier to do a presentation for people who don’t know them, because they can just hide behind a character. While it might feel like you’re being a more dynamic speaker, the challenge is you’re less likely to actually connect with people.
Using a “character” is like using emotional armor.
It’s something that separates you from your audience and acts as a shield. You’re going to make a much greater impact, and your audience will remember your talk in the long-term, if you can be brave enough to simply be yourself.
4. AMPLIFY YOUR PERSONALITY
Once you decide to stick with who you really are, then you simply have to project your personality in a way that fills a larger room.
Good public speaking is a physical act, so you must use your body effectively. A few steps to take before every presentation include:
- Remove tension. Release your shoulders, shake out your body, loosen your jaw. That last one is crucial — a tight jaw makes for a tight voice.
- Warm up gently. If you were going to run consistently for 45 minutes, you’d do a warmup. The same should go for the muscles you’re using to speak. Being warmed up will help you free your voice to project your personality further. You can do this through quietly humming up and down your vocal range, as well as choosing a few tongue twisters to loosen up your facial muscles and articulate.
- Engage your projection muscles. Imagine there’s a candle a metre in front of you and you have to blow it out. Put your hands on your stomach and make a “TSS” sound to blow the candle out. You’ll feel your projection muscles engage, bringing your stomach in slightly as the air goes out. This is where your voice should be supported from, never pushing from the neck region.
5. MAKE SURE YOU ENUNCIATE
It doesn’t matter if you have a strong accent or are prone to speaking too quickly provided you enunciate.
It’s important to note that good enunciation in front of a large room of people requires your mouth muscles to work harder than they would if you were speaking one-on-one.
Even if you’ve got a microphone right next to your mouth, you still need to make sure your enunciation is clear and crisp in a large space.
If you are speaking to an audience who do not share your language, ensure you leave short pauses after key messages and sentences, allowing them to process the message before you move on.
6. FOCUS ON HOW YOU WANT YOUR AUDIENCE TO FEEL
Finally, always focus on how you want your audience to feel when you’re finished.
Once you decide on that end result, you can channel that into your vocal tone.
In order to achieve this it may help to imagine you’re telling people a story about a recent holiday, or speaking to a specific person who brings out a certain side of your personality — channel that aspect so that you can inspire the desired emotion in your voice and therefore your audience.
This will help you to feel less self conscious, because your presentation will become less about you and more about using your body, voice and personality to serve your message.
To learn more about how we can help you please contact our team.