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  • Bruce Rule

Voice Is a Powerful Tool in Public Speaking (Part 3)



public speaking rule communications bruce rule
You Must Speak Loud Enough for Everyone to Hear

We have discussed why your voice is a very important tool you can use to improve your public speaking and become a more effective communicator (You can review the post here.) We have also discussed pitch and gone over some things you can do to help control and vary it. That post is here

 

Now let’s look at how volume can be used in your public speaking.

 

Volume is, to put in plainly, how loud you are when you are speaking. The most obvious way volume affects your presentation is that you have to speak loudly enough so that everyone present can hear you clearly. This can be a struggle for people who are normally soft-spoken. For some people, speaking loudly feels to them like they are yelling. For others, loud voices, even if it is their own, may trigger an emotional response from some trauma in the past. For some, there is a cultural factor. They have been brought up to believe that they are supposed to be soft-spoken and that they are showing disrespect when they raise their voice.

 

This was the case with a client of mine who was of Chinese heritage. She had a hard time being heard whenever a meeting occurred in a larger room because her normal volume was very soft. I explained to her that raising her voice loud enough that everyone can hear isn’t disrespectful. It’s actually the opposite. You are respecting your audience when you speak loudly enough that they can follow along easily.

 

I also explained that she should view a louder voice as simply part of her job, which she took to heart. By convincing herself that she had a responsibility to the company to make herself heard, she no longer felt she was being disrespectful when she raised her volume.

 

When you are giving a presentation, you should always speak in a clear voice loud enough that the person in the back of the room can hear you. Pick a person farthest away from you and pretend you are talking to her. If you are unsure you are loud enough, it is perfectly fine to ask, “Can everyone hear me?”

 

Show Up Early

 

What I like to do when I am speaking in a venue where I’ve never spoken is to get there early, go to the spot where I will be speaking, and estimate how loud I will need to be to reach a person in the back of the room. If someone is accompanying me, I will ask that person to go stand in the back of the room and test my volume. And, by the way, I do this even if I am supposed to be wearing or using a microphone. Because if the microphone doesn’t work when the time comes, I want to be prepared.

 

If you normally give presentations in a particular room at your office, try to slip in there when no one is present and practice how loud you have to be. Again, asking someone to help you works best.

 

Once you have determined how loud you need to be in a particular venue or for a presentation, you can vary your volume for effect. We’ll go over some of the ways you can do that in a later post. For now, just concentrate on making sure you are comfortable speaking loudly in a clear even voice without sounding as if you are yelling.

 

The best way to do that is through practice. Recording yourself several times from different distances, then listening to make sure you are clear can help.

 

The other way to practice volume is to read aloud an exciting story—one where the characters are speaking a lot of sentences that end with exclamation points. Practice saying those sentences in a louder voice so you can feel the difference.

 

Learning to breathe more from your diaphragm also will help you control your volume because diaphragmatic breathing strengthens your body and gives you more control over your voice. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that illustrate how to improve your breathing so check them out.

 

The key is to understand that your audience needs you to be loud enough that they can hear. Later on, we are going to discuss how varying your volume can help your public speaking, but for now make sure you are heard.

 

Note: Please feel free to comment on this post or ask any question about public speaking and I will address it in a blog post. If you want to discuss something privately, feel free to reach out to me at brule@rulecommunications.com

 

 

 

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