Except at a Karaoke night, I doubt if many of us give our voice much thought. We just accept it; it’s who we are; it’s what identifies us on the telephone and it’s what makes us enjoy or loathe Karaoke!

But our voice is the basis for our audible communication process, and in public speaking it is a very important part of our tool kit.

Understanding a little bit about how our voice is created gives us a good idea of what we can and can’t change about it, and yes you can change your voice, but it takes practice and a little time.

The basis of all sound is air, and we create our voice from the air in our lungs; the more air we use the stronger and louder our voice becomes. The more nervous we are the shallower we breathe and the smaller and breathier our voice. So the basis for a good speaking is good breathing practice.

And that means breathing all the way down into the bottom of our lungs; so take a deep breath now and push out the stomach to allow the air to fill all the lung space. Now let it out under control. That is good breathing practice and we need to practice that until it become automatic.

Next we need to open our mouths – a little wider than usual please. Let’s have no ‘Mandible Mumbilitis’-open  wide enough to insert the width of one knuckle between the teeth. Try it now – does that feel a little strange to you? Then you could be a victim of the dreaded MM disease.

Now you have enough air, and your mouth is wide enough to let the sound out, we can have a look at some of the vocal techniques that can add the emotional factor to your speaking voice.
First; how fast do you normally talk? Are you so fast that people’s eyes glaze over when they try to keep up with your thought process? – Or so slow that your listeners are desperate to prompt you? A good speaking voice is easy to listen to without discomfort to the audience.

Next – how loud is your usual voice? Are you so soft people literally need to concentrate so hard it’s painful; or can you stop a squad of soldiers at 100 paces? Again we need to ensure that our audience can clearly hear us, so if you are softly spoken use a microphone.

Then consider where is your natural pitch? Are you a coloratura soprano or basso profunda? Ideally your natural speaking voice should be in the middle of your range as this allows you to use change of pitch to increase the emotional tension in your speech. By slightly raising the pitch you can increase the energy you generate to indicate passion and conviction. the emotion can of course be reversed; sadness and pathos can be induced just by lowering the pitch. But remember that the indicator is ‘slightly’.

One of the best ways of trialling just what you can do with your voice is to read aloud; especially fairy stories! So if you have children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews you have it made. You can really work and finding out what your voice can do as you take on the characters in the story – Be the strong handsome prince, with a slight deeper and slower voice; become the beautiful princess with a higher and perhaps breathier tone – and go to town with the wicked witch or evil stepmother!

But whatever you do, read aloud!! And invest some time in tongue twisters! These really exercise those muscles which may have fallen into that dreaded ‘Mandible Mumbilitis’ – google a few and try them out today. This will certainly improve your articulations, pronunciation and thereby your enunciation – that sentence in itself is a good workout for the mouth!

So voice is the basis of all speech and the foundation of voice is air. So if you are intending to speak in public give some thought to your breathing, and then to the way that your voice is produced and consider what you can do to improve your medium for your message.

Michele @:Trischel

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