Have you ever been to a conference and zoned out on the speaker? Here’s how to make sure your audience can keep their eyes open.
One of the exercises I provide for my clients is to read a nonsense paragraph, making it interesting for the listeners by means of color and tone. Color refers to the vocal variety in your voice as well as your facial and body language. Tone, on the other hand, deals with the vocal expression of a particular mood or attitude which is dependent on your subject or topic.
Video record yourself as you read the following paragraph. Speak with emotion and with life when saying the words or else it will sound senseless.
- Bill Williams willed wills and billed bills to Williams and Bills.
- A most willing William enjoyed willing and billing, billing bills for the wills of Williams and Bills.
- The willing question is whether Bill Williams willed for his bills or billed for the wills of Williams and Bills.
- Now Williams may say he billed for the wills; however, Williams and Bills will that Bill Williams willed his bills on Williams and Bills.
- The answer is that Bill Williams didn’t will Williams and Bills bills, but billed Williams and Bills for their wills.
Study the playback and listen to your voice. Watch your facial expression. Did it sound natural and normal or did you just spit out a pile of words with no expression? Did your face show any emotion? Speaking without color is called speaking in a monotone voice. It is also called boring.
If you had difficulty with this exercise, try it again and emphasize a few of the verbs, for example. There are other means of adding life to this reading as well. You can draw out some of your words, change your inflection by changing your pitch, and increase or decrease your speed on a few words.
One of the most effective techniques for expression, and, unfortunately, the one most often lacking in public speaking, is the pause. In normal conversation, most people pause and never give it a second thought. The pause allows you to breathe and to organize your thoughts – if ever-so-briefly. It also gives your listeners a break. To be hit with non-stop verbiage is tiring for both you and your listeners.
If you are uncomfortable with this aspect of your delivery, practice in front of your video camera. Give yourself permission to speak with emotion and notice how ‘normal’ you look. You will be surprised at how much more interested your listeners will be if you allow yourself to show some emotion when speaking.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels provides private, group and corporate training throughout the United States and Canada as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement and presentation skills. If you would like to hear Nancy read the paragraph above, visit Voice Dynamic and watch The Voice Lady in action.
International Speaker and Voice Specialist, Nancy Daniels, has been involved in voice training since 1977. A graduate of Gettysburg College with a BA in music, she discovered the techniques for improving the sound of the speaking voice while in graduate school at American University in Washington, D.C. Owner of Voice Dynamic, in addition to her guest speaking engagements, Nancy Daniels gives seminars and corporate and individual workshops in the United States and Canada.