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Overcoming Issues of Vocal Variety in Public Speaking

Many of my clients tell me that they are concerned about vocal variety when giving presentations or other forms of public speaking.

BUT The answer has little to do with their voice ITSELF...

If you're concerned about your voice lacking vocal variety, then you probably have a job that requires using your voice as an important part of it. A bland, uninteresting voice is clearly a distinct disadvantage to someone with public speaking in their role.

I had a Professor in University who routinely cleared his throat after every seventh word. By the end of a lecture, people were ready to kill. Add to that a terrifyingly monotonous speaking voice and his classes were avoided like the plague. He was such a lovely man, it was such a shame. He lacked the ability to AFFECT his audience with his words, and they came out painfully flat.

Without vocal variety, your audience of listeners don't know which of your words is most important, so the meaning can easily be lost.

But that's because most presenters confuse their role. Your job is not to transfer information. It's to cause people to think, feel and do something.

Look at this example:

  • Our latest handset reduces charging time by up to 30 minutes.

  • Our latest handset reduces charging time by up to 30 minutes.

  • Our latest handset reduces charging time by up to 30 minutes.

  • Our latest handset reduces charging time by up to 30 minutes.

Each of these sentences not only has a different stress, but a different intention, meaning and impact on the listener. Where you place the stress controls the meaning and that has a different personal meaning for the audience, who have interests and priorities of their own.

Some people might consider voice classes, acting courses or neurolinguistic programming (NLP) as a solution. The answer is simpler. The key to vocal variety is being clear about what you want the listener to think, feel and do.

When you make decisions about how your BIG IDEA relates to what you want the audience to think, feel and do, then you start to influence not just what you say, but HOW you say it.

Vocal variety starts with what's motivating the speaker. Once we understand what the speaker wants the listener to think, feel and do, then we can look at tools, tricks, techniques and tips for improving variety.

But variety comes from understand what you want from the listener. Do you want them to be CONVINCED, EXCITED, INSPIRED, or UPLIFTED? The simplest trick is to mimic what you want them to feel.

Need them to be CONVINCED? Then sound convinced.

Need them to be EXCITED? Than sound excited yourself.

Need them to be INSPIRED? Talk with inspiration about your topic.

Generally, making this choice tells you what choices in tone, pace, pitch and pauses to make. But that's just the beginning.

If you're looking to boost your vocal variety, I have simple tools, tricks and techniques that can help, get in touch - or keep reading the blog!

The Very Best

Mark Westbrook

Public Speaking Coach - Glasgow, Scotland.