Who knew that finding your own voice could be such a joyous discovery?
I could see the understanding dawn on the adult students’ faces last week as they grasped how important each individual voice is in the spoken symphony of life. And they also experienced a little fear in the realization that if your speaking voice isn’t interesting enough, your listeners may tune you out or change the channel.
My blog post from March 6, 2018 (link below) identified some common issues that cause our voices to be less receptive to listeners.
I often find that men drift into the grey zone more than women do. A “grey zone” speaker contains one (or several and sometimes many!) of these aspects:
►monotone ►flat ►dull ►boring ►safe ►neutral ►predictable ►ambivalence ►cautious ►forgettable
In my opinion, the #1 positive aspect that can help a voice be more receptive to an audience is what I term “vocal vitality.” This is a voice that uses some variance in rate, inflection, and pitch.
RATE – This is how quickly or slowly we speak. If you speak too quickly, your audience may not catch everything you say. Conversely, if you have a tendency to speak quite slowly, your audience has time to daydream instead of listening to you. The best pace is a medium one AND then to say some words quite quickly and others (such as a main point) more slowly. That creates the variance in rate.
PITCH – This is how high or low our speaking voice range is. Very high-pitched voices can be grating and sound childlike. Think of a two-year-old whining for a cookie. And when we speak in a very low pitch, it can easily turn into a mumble or at the least, cause our last word or syllable in a sentence to drop off into an indistinguishable sound. A lower voice is often interpreted as more professional. When we vary our voice range in a speech, it creates interest. Top-rated voice coach Roger Love does a super explanation of this by using a piano. I’ve included the link below.
INFLECTION – This means giving stronger emphasis to words that help our audiences understand our message. I’ll use the phrase “I didn’t say he stole the money” as an example. If you emphasize the word “I” the meaning will be Hey, I’m not the one who said it; it was Betty. Not counting the word “the” that phrase can have six different meanings! Try it; say it aloud and put emphasis on various words.
So treasure your own speaking voice and improve by making sure you add vocal vitality to it!
PS – The “Grey Zone” was first identified by author Ron Hoff in his book I Can See You Naked, which is hands-down my favorite speaking advice book! Contact your local bookstore and have them order you a copy!