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.
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.