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"Be a voice not an echo." - Albert Einstein

Voice Improvement: The One Speech Technique You Need to Know

Voice Improvement: The One Speech Technique You Need to Know

Want to improve your speaking voice? When it comes to voice improvement, here's the one speech technique you need to know.

Now that you're communicating "face to face" in virtual meetings throughout the day, it's time to consider your speaking voice.

Actually, it was always time, since your voice is a key contributor to professional success. But nowadays, you're probably more aware of the fact than ever. For instance, you may be watching and listening to yourself in screen recordings of your online meetings. If you don't like what you're hearing, it's time (to paraphrase those cheesy TV commercials), to "Act now! . . . Listeners are standing by!"

Your voice is your most powerful tool in public speaking performance. Make it sharp! Get my Free cheat sheet, "5 Key Tools of Vocal Dynamics."

Improving your speaking voice is one of the best investments you can make in terms of your career. But what if you don't have time to enlist the services of a speech coach? Take heart: there's an easily learnable tool that will make your voice come to life. Let's speak about that.

My Best Sales Pitch

Here's My Best Pitch: Use Pitch Inflection

Of the 5 key tools of vocal dynamics, pitch inflection is most likely the one you should be concentrating on most. That's because—regardless of whether you're using your optimal pitch, say, or pausing effectively, or employing favorable vocal quality—the odds are that pitch inflection is an area where you can use improvement. The truth is, most people tend to "sit" on their pitch, not varying it much in either direction. We have a word for that, and it's not a term any of us would like to hear applied to our speaking voice: monotonous.

Discover 101 Tips for great public speaking! Click on the image below for the Public Speaking Handbook, How to Give a Speech.

Dr. Gary Genard's public speaking handbook, How to Give a Speech.

There are two important reasons you need to use sufficient pitch variation. ("Inflection" simply means allowing the pitch to rise or fall in terms of the vocal frequency. Or, the easiest way to think of it: highness or lowness on the musical scale.) 

Reason #1 is that, for people to pay attention, you have to change your pitch for variety. The human ear, like the eye, responds to difference not sameness. You know this fact well. When you hear someone who speaks without changing their pitch, don't you begin to lose interest? You might even say that they have a "boring" voice. Inflecting your voice will simply help your audiences from tuning out!

Reason #2: pitch inflection allows you to separate important points, i.e., key words, terms, and phrases, from everything else that surrounds them. It doesn't matter what your topic is; you need to allow people to hear what it is of primary, secondary, and tertiary (I usually call this one "parenthetical") importance.

Primary words and ideas are those that must be remembered; secondary items usually support or give evidence supporting those items; and parenthetical phrases are those that, as we say in the theater, you "throw away." Think in terms of a mountain range, in which each important thing you say is a distinct peak. Get off the plateau as much as you can! 

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Stock photo of beautiful Victorian house.

You Live in a Beautiful House. Get To Know It More!

Here's a metaphor I use with clients to bring home (sort of speak) why it's important to use full pitch dynamics. This isn't just to be a more enjoyable speaker to listen to—though that's part of it. It also has to do with realizing the potential of your voice to completely reflect who you are. Just as important, it will help you connect with people in terms of shared intellectual and emotional responses. 

Imagine your voice's inflection in terms of a house; in this case, a beautiful two-story Victorian with an attic. If you're using limited pitch inflection by staying on one pitch (whether that pitch is too high or too low), you're only living on one or two floors of your beautiful house! For instance, if you're in the habit of using a low pitch without any variety, you're spending all of your time on the first floor, or even the basement. There are some lovely rooms on the second floor!

Or may you spend too much time up there, and even in the attic. Some people do, using a high speaking pitch to begin with, then making leaps upward from that beginning level. Yes, the bedrooms and bathroom on the second floor are nice; and an occasional trip up into the attic can be fun. But why ignore the first floor—with the main entrance, the living room with the fireplace and mantle, the kitchen, and front hall where you greet your guests?

Can we go so far as to say that a "fully exercised" voice is a reflection of a life well lived, or at least one that shares its treasures? Sure. At least, I'm going there.

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Discover the "New Rules" for virtual speaking success: The Online Meetings Handbook!

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Gary Genard is an actor, author, and expert in public speaking training and overcoming speaking fear. His company, Boston-based The Genard Method offers live 1:1 Zoom executive coaching  and corporate group training worldwide. In 2021 for the eighth consecutive year, Gary has been ranked by Global Gurus as One of The World's Top 30 Communication ProfessionalsHe is the author of the Amazon Best-Seller How to Give a Speech. His second book, Fearless Speakingwas named in 2019 as "One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time." His latest book is The Online Meetings Handbook, now available at The Genard Method and at Amazon. To know more about TGM's services, Contact Gary here.  


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