No one wants to listen to a presentation delivered in a monotone. Tone, pitch and volume all convey meaning … and they help keep the audience engaged. That’s the power of vocal variety.
But, like all powers, vocal variety is a tool that can be used to both make your presentation more powerful … or just plain confusing. It is the finesse with which you use vocal variety that can make or break your speech.
Use too little and your audience falls asleep.
Use too much and your audience wants to run away from you!
Here are some tips for making vocal variety work for you:
How loudly or softly you say things adds emphasis. For example, when you suddenly say something louder than the rest of your presentation, you wake up the audience. You startle them into paying attention.
Lower your volume and you make them lean in toward you to take it all in. Lowering volume can also have a calming effect.
How high or low your voice is conveys emotion and conviction. But you need to watch how you use this, because too high can have negative connotations. It can make you sound scared or immature. Too low and you could make yourself literally choke on your words!
Most of your speech will be delivered at a moderate rate. But occasionally you’ll want to speed up or slow down your speaking to convey emphasis, excitement or even a punch line.
These are the three main tools with in the vocal variety tool belt. But there is one other that you just need to keep in mind — vocal quality. Do your best to keep your throat relaxed so that the quality of your voice will be at its best.
There are some excellent exercises provided by Kate Peters, found on the brilliant Toastie blog six minutes.