“Hello! Can Anybody Hear Me?” and other voice issues

I talked before about finding your voice in the written word and will explore that further in the future. Today, I want to speak about audio. Audio is ubiquitous with more and more people starting podcasts, posting live videos, and presenting live in meetings and during the course of their lives. As we develop our spoken voice, we must address various issues. Whether you are about to engage an audience via a podcast, a live presentation, a meeting, or a social media video, here are some questions to ponder before you engage your audience.

Are you loud enough? Are you too loud? If your voice is either shaky or breathy, what are you communicating to your audience? If you speak quickly, what are you saying? Can they catch all your words? Can you? If you speak slowly, what message are you sending? Do you know?

Give thought to how you want to communicate your message and also to how you want your audience to receive it. However, before you start, you must know your audience. If you are about to present to a group of teens who spend a ton of time playing loud video games, then you can likely present with energy and in a fast pace. If older people comprise most of your audience, you will likely want to keep things more measured than the speaking style a fourteen-year-old would find engaging. These are extreme examples, but I want to convey the importance of doing that research beforehand.

Nervousness can add a shake or breathy quality to any voice. To address that, take three deep breaths before you begin. You might feel like an eternity passes and people are looking at you like you’ve grown a second head, but there is nothing wrong with pausing in silence. People tend to want to fill silences because it feels uncomfortable. And we can ask ourselves that question: Why? Why does silence feel uncomfortable? I would bet many of us have no good answer. Silence is preparatory. Silence can be exciting and engaging.

Here’s what I do at the start of any presentation. I stand in front of the group. I look around the room and make eye contact with as many people as I can, and let everything fall silent. Once we have all gotten accustomed to sitting in repose with ourselves for those few seconds, I grin and shout, “Are you ready?” The answer is always a resounding, “Yes!”

And that’s just what I want to hear!

Tag someone who needs to see this. Next time, I will cover vocal volume.


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