Projecting your voice is a key technique with the idea to reach the back of the auditorium without shouting. This is powerful speaking without uncomfortable volume! In public speaking clarity and tone are far more important than volume in that they imply authority, a certain gravitas and above all, confidence.
“Projecting the voice does not involve just shouting louder – that can strain and ultimately damage the vocal cords. Projecting is a way of speaking that uses your belly muscles to push the sound up and out of you” Helen Sewell, Voice Coach.
If you need to learn voice projection and correct breathing to enable it check out this useful article
When you first start public speaking you are naturally nervous but you don’t want this showing in your voice.
To help you, follow these five P’s for powerful speaking
The clearer you are on the structure of your speech, the more confident you will sound. If you keep looking down at your notes you are compressing your chest; where the power of your voice is centered. You want to be able to keep your head up, and breathe from your diaphragm to add power to your voice. Notes are there as prompts not a script; you glance at them, not read from them. Think of your speech as a journey with key stops to refuel, check your directions and then move forward. Structure it so it has high and low points; places for emphasis and pauses (see later) for your audience to think and reflect.
Passion in Powerful Speaking
The more passion you have for your subject, the more powerful your speech. Enthusiasm lifts the tone of your voice and will project the passion across the whole room. Passion animates a speaker; they move more and compel an audience to watch and listen. If you are a novice speaker, passion can come across as nervous pacing so you do need to practice this! To test whether your speech is a Wet Wednesday or a Sunny Saturday, record it and listen to it yourself. Practice lifting your voice at the end of a sentence with a provocative question to your audience. Questions change the tone of a speech and can inject energy into a topic
Purpose in Powerful Speaking
Be very clear on the message and purpose of your speech. Your audience expects you to be an authority and the message needs to both resonate and make sense to your audience. Clarity lends purpose, authority and power to your talk. If you are hesitant then you will not be projecting with power and the audience will lose confidence in your speech
Positioning for Powerful Speaking
Where you stand on stage contributes to audience perception and the power you project. A good trick is arriving on stage from centre back if possible- somewhat like a star performer with a centre spotlight! Taking centre stage is obvious, but don’t stay there for the whole talk. You have an audience all round you and movement will engage those listening from the edges. There is a balance between pacing around the stage like a caged tiger and being frozen centre stage like a rabbit in the headlights. Try to move naturally and make eye contact with key people within your audience.
Pauses are Important in Powerful speaking
Projecting your voice so all can hear and delivering with clarity is helped by the smart use of pauses. Rushing your speech loses your audience. Powerful speaking uses pauses for emphasis on important points and allows your audience to think through key parts of your talk. Pausing and making eye contact to underline a key part of your speech is part of projecting with power and shows confidence.
Projecting for powerful speaking is not just voice technique. It comes down to being assured and confident about your talk. Use the stage effectively, and structure your talk to achieve a balance between authority, energy and engagement.
- Plan your speech to allow natural flow, highs and lows, and a powerful conclusion
- Inject passion, vary the tone of your voice, allow your enthusiasm to show
- Be clear about your message
- Position yourself to command the stage and engage all of your audience
- Be smart about pausing and allowing your audience time to digest your points
Watch an extract of my talk at the Rail Safety Summit to see the 5 P’s in action- see if you can identify where I use them!