Most of us who do presentations spend far longer preparing our visuals (the dreaded ‘deck’) than we do our voices. Yet our voice is an enormously powerful medium. Ask anyone who’s sat through a monotone presentation. Or listen to a brilliant orator. Getting some variety in our vocal delivery is vital to emphasise key points, keep the audience’s attention, create the right mood, inspire, touch emotions and generally engage our audience.
- Pace – slow down or speed up
- Tone – the best orators can create sing-song passages in a speech; in other parts they may create a mood of doom for dramatic effect
- Pitch – OK, not all audiences will welcome comedic falsetto, but a broader scale of pitch will help engage them
- Volume – a whisper can be powerful, as can a quotation delivered with more volume
- Rhythm – or cadence, as your words ebb and flow, as if to a beat
- Language – catch-phrases, trios of words (the ‘power of three’ used by many a politician) and metaphor
- Pause – silence can be one of the most powerful ways of using our voice.
The key to using any of the above is to practise – out loud and several times. A flat, monotone ‘read through’ is a sure sign of a speaker who hasn’t sufficiently prepared.