Just for a moment, think back to that moment that you decided to become an entrepreneur.. to start your own business. In that moment, what was it that made you excited to begin? Something tells me that it related to a significant and powerful passion to spend your working life, doing that thing that you love.. that fires you up.
As we begin to progress with our passions in the form of a business, there are other elements that we don’t necessarily love as much. Public speaking is one such skill that research has shown 77% of the population have some form of anxiety around. Yet, for many of our businesses, this is an essential element, whether it be with staff, with clients, shareholders or the general community.
When you are afraid of speaking, your attention is drawn inward. As a result, your body can begin to curl over, your voice can become smaller and less powerful and the connection with our audience begins to fall away and the people in the room don’t hear the depth of the message you are trying to share.
Fortunately, there are some things that you can implement today, to begin to make your message more powerful and empower your audience to truly listen.
1. Listen to and improve your vocal tone.
So many of us go through life thinking that the sound of our voice is the sound that we have been given, and that there is no way of changing it.
This could not be more untrue… which is great news!
Take a moment to think about the people within your working life that you’ve respected and taken seriously… Now, think about someone who perhaps you didn’t respect so much.. What were their voices like? Did they have low strong voices… or high pitch and soft voices? Do they speak quickly and dynamically… or slowly and monotone?
You have the power to change the way you speak, when you identify what needs some work.
There are a few ways you can go about this:
- Record yourself speaking and listen back
- Ask a trusted and honest friend or co-worker
- Head to my website and submit a recording for a voice analysis
2. Build authority and intonation into your speaking.
Intonation, inflections and pauses create meaning and emphasis in the phrases that you are speaking. They are often the difference between an audience getting enthused and excited about your message or drifting off into their own dreamland.
Firstly, have a listen back to your recording to listen for those patterns and inflections.
Now, try playing with some new and different patterns… have fun with it and see what you can discover!
3. Finding the right pitch for you.
Listening to, and finding the right pitch for you will make a big difference to the way you are received.
If you speak too deeply, it will sound unnatural and can be difficult to hear clearly, whereas, high pitch, small voices have a tendency to lose their power and effectiveness with gaining the respect of an audience.
Audiences tend to appreciate a clear, moderate pitch.
4. Think about the pace of your speaking.
Often when we are nervous, we tend to speed up our speech, however this makes it difficult for our audience to follow along.
However, many people who are conscious of this will slow down too much which can lead to your audience losing interest in what you are conveying.
Practice your speech with a timer to work out the optimum pace. A vocal coach can also be really helpful with this.
5. Controlling your volume.
It is common for many of us to speak too quietly, making it challenging for our audiences to hear what we are saying.
Overcompensating by yelling can also be very stressful for your audiences.
Seeking feedback on your speaking volume, as you speak can help you to find the balance.
6. The art of the pause when speaking.
Taking the time to pause during speaking is an extremely effective tool to allow an idea to sink in.
It’s important to assess when these pauses will be used, because if it comes across that you’ve taken a break because you’ve forgotten your words, it can appear amateurish.
Take the time to review your speech and mark in where you feel pauses will be appropriate.
7. Accents and public speaking.
There is a lot of debate over how and whether public speakers should moderate their accents. While feeling like you are speaking with your voice is important, it’s a simple truth that listeners react differently to different accents.
There is some tie-over between intonation and accent — for example, in the U.K. some Australian and U.S. accents are perceived as sounding as if every sentence is a question. For this reason, it’s especially worth considering how your accent sounds if you’re likely to address international audiences.
Maria Pellicano is an Australian author, voice coach, public speaker, teacher and singer. With more than 20 years of experience, she has helped over 5,000 people find their voice, presence and confidence and to speak with influence and impact. Maria works with individuals, leaders, influencers and businesses through public speaking and voice coaching, training, mentoring and coaching and corporate development programs.