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Using Your Voice: Tips for Projection and Modulation

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 11 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Voice Modulation Projection Speech

When you're making a business speech it's good to know your subject matter but being able to project your voice and modulate it will make the speech more interesting. An audience will tune you out if they can't hear you, if you are mumbling, or if you are speaking in a monotone.

Capturing an audience's interest will help them learn. If you're making a speech to increase sales or as part of a marketing initiative it will be a lot more effective if the audience is engaged and listening. Let's look at modulation first.

Voice Modulation

Modulation is simply varying the pitch of your voice rather than speaking in the same tone (a monotone) all the time. Nearly everyone does this naturally in social situations but often they are overwhelmed by the occasion when delivering a business speech. A nervous speaker will concentrate on their lines and forget to inject a bit of personality into their delivery.

Try to identify places in your speech where slowing the pace and enunciating clearly will emphasise a point. If you're coming to the end of a section and summarising with your most important point, for example, deliver it with a little pace. Then pause and repeat it the last half dozen words in a slower, lower voice. The different delivery types will make the point stand out.

Get Interested!

The other key to injecting some interest into your voice is to be interested and excited yourself. If you are bored by what you are saying then the audience will be too. Think back to some of the most memorable speeches you've heard, it's almost certain that they were delivered by exciting and motivating individuals.

You don't have to go over the top, in fact if you’re jumping around like a jack-in-the-box throughout the whole session that will be just as off-putting as a boring monotone. Quiet sections of your speech will help to emphasise the more exciting parts.

Projection and Volume

Projection is a lot more complex. If you're lucky enough to have a deep booming voice naturally then you won’t have any problem. Volume is not the same as projection though.

As far as volume is concerned, if you are concerned that people at the back may not be able to hear you, ask them. As most business speeches are delivered with microphones these days this might not be such a problem.

If people do seem to be having trouble hearing you a simple trick is to look up slightly and aim at a spot about six feet above the head of the person in the back row. This will make your voice travel over the top of the audience. If you have your head buried deep in your notes you will only be heard by the lectern and the front row.

Learning Advanced Projection Techniques

To develop voice projection further requires breathing exercises to deepen the voice and increase the strength of the diaphragm. You can also change the tone of your voice by changing the shapes your mouth makes, a little like opera singers. This all takes time and practice and needs the attention of a voice coach.

But if you are doing a lot of presentations and want to improve your technique a local group such as toastmasters might help. There you will be able to give demonstration presentations and get feedback from people who know the craft.

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