Talent shows are back on U.S. television and bigger than ever. One of the newest is The Voice, where vocalists compete for a recording contract and $100,000. What makes this show unique is its innovative “blind audition,” in which judges select contestants based solely on their voice.
How would you measure up if your entire presentation was judged solely on your voice?
Once you’re comfortable with your content and organization, it’s time to enhance your delivery using these techniques to make the most of your unique voice.
The Four Ps of Vocal Expressiveness
Let’s take a closer look at each of these important skills and learn some easy ways to put them to work for you.
Power refers to volume — how loudly or softly you speak. You want to ensure that you’re clearly heard and understood everywhere in the room. In addition, your volume should reflect the emotional content of your presentation. For example, if your goal is to “rally the troops,”then you’ll naturally be louder and more expressive.
Pro Tip: If you’re concerned that you may not be heard across the room, simply ask someone to raise a hand if they’re having difficulty hearing you. Listeners will be happy to help — and may even pay closer attention to what you’re saying!
Pace is how quickly or slowly you speak. Pace is influenced by:
- The complexity of your subject
- The size of the audience/room
- Your ability to articulate
Many people speak too fast during presentations, especially when they are nervous or unprepared.
Pro Tip: An unvaried pace can sound monotone. Try to mix it up a bit, which keeps listeners engaged and highlights key parts of your presentation.
Pitch is your tone of voice. Many speakers do not communicate their feelings adequately because they do not vary their pitch and rhythm enough. A natural, conversational tone provides vocal variety and helps you make an emotional connection with your audience.
Pro Tip: Being conversational means sounding friendly, using contractions and short words, avoiding jargon — in essence, using the everyday approach of talking with a colleague.
Pause refers to the spaces between sentences, phrases or words. Pauses serve as verbal “punctuation marks” that:
- Give the audience time to think about your content
- Add variety and provide a break, keeping listeners attentive
- Provide time for you to breathe and speak at a controlled pace
If you’re afflicted with the “ums,” “ahs” or “you knows,” conscious pauses are also the best way to start eliminating these useless fillers.
Pro Tip: Start adding pauses to your presentations by taking a breath at the end of every major phrase or sentence.
By following the Four Ps, you may not win any singing contests, but you’ll leverage one of the most powerful and unique tools you have — your voice.