It has been shown that we are more likely to be affected by voice of a speaker than by the words spoken. It is how the speech is delivered, rather than what is said, this is most important.
There are five basic ways you can vary your voice when you speak. The variables are volume, pitch, rate, quality and character. Let’s cover these individually.
How loudly or softly you say your words makes a difference in the emotion or impact of those words. For example, if I was to say, “I am very angry” with a soft voice, I’m not as likely to give you the impression that I’m angry, as I would if I said the same thing loudly.
The volume of your voice can be varied during a speech to add dramatic impact or emphasis.
Emotion and conviction can be conveyed through the variance of pitch. When you use a higher pitch, you can communicate fear or insecurity. When you use a lower pitch you can communicate confidence and calmness.
Pauses bring listeners to a stop. It makes them listen for what is coming next.
Talking fast, on the other hand, adds energy and excitement. Be careful not to overuse this skill, though. Listeners will be unable to keep up and catch what you’re saying.
It’s a good idea to keep most of a presentation at a medium pace and only use rapid speech and pauses for emphasis.
This is a combination of the above skills. Is your voice smooth and easy to listen to? Or is it harsh and crisp, revealing your nervousness? To have good quality in your voice, relax your throat.
Stand firmly with both feet on the ground. Your voice emanates from your entire body. If you are grounded, your voice will be firmer, more steady.
This is where the fun comes in. Play with your voice. If you use quotes, try to sound like the person you are quoting. If they have an accent, use it! Have fun with your voice.
I once saw a comedian read Donna Summers’ song “Hot Stuff” as if it was a poem. Now, if you listen to the song, you know that she is talking about a hot date. But the way he read it, it sounded like she wanted hot food.
Be aware of how your volume, pitch, rate, quality, and character affect your meaning.