Your audience judges you from the moment you stand up to speak. If you are dressed well and are neat and clean, their initial impression of you will be positive. However, if your voice is squeaky, your words unintelligible, or your voice too loud, their positive impression quickly will become negative. If you want to communicate effectively and positively influence your audience, you must pay special attention to your speaking voice.
THE MEDIUM OF YOUR MESSAGE
Your greatest tool as a speaker is your voice. Every time you address an audience your mind, your body, and your voice act as partners in your effort to communicate with your listeners. When you speak, your voice is the primary link between you and your listeners. It is the medium of your message.
Yet most likely the voice you are now using is not your best voice. You may have buried your optimum speaking voice under layers of bad speech habits. However, you must find it and put it to work if you want to become a good speaker. This manual will help you add dimension, strength, vitality, and authority to your speaking voice.
An effective voice isn’t necessary just for public speaking. A good, controlled voice is an asset in every contact with others. Your voice mirrors your personality with a language all its own. A natural voice which projects cordiality, cultivation, and authority is a significant tool for personal success. It can help in gaining promotions, making sales, winning the respect of others, and improving your social opportunities, as well as in speaking effectively to audiences.
When you speak, your voice reflects your psychological and emotional state of mind. You cannot hope to persuade or influence others – or even get them to listen in a positive way – if your tones are harsh and unfriendly. Such a voice can repel even when the speaker wishes to attract. The quality of friendliness is a requirement for a good speaking voice. It is largely a matter of habit, as is the unfriendly tone.
If you scold, snarl, and speak in an unpleasant tone and you want to produce the genial, cheerful, and gracious tones that characterize a good speaking voice, you may need to do more than simply develop your voice. You may have to reassess how you look at yourself, other people, and events in general.
But most likely you can develop the sort of voice that wins favorable attention and reflects the qualities you wish to project. You simply have to strip away any bad speech habits and replace them with positive ones that will enhance your speaking voice.
One of your goals as a speaker should be to develop a voice that is:
- pleasant, conveying a sense of warmth
- natural, reflecting your true personality and sincerity
- dynamic, giving the impression of force and strength – even when it isn’t especially loud
- expressive, portraying various shades of meaning and never sounding monotonous or without emotion
- easily heard, thanks to proper volume and clear articulation