Your voice has the power to command room.
Imagine sitting in a presentation where the speaker has no passion in their voice and speaks like a drone. You would likely forget the presentation and the speaker pretty quickly.
By using your voice as the fine instrument you can make your presentations stick in the minds and hearts of your audience.
Here are three tips to use your voice to command a room.
1. Remember to take a deep breath
The breath is one of the least talked about but is one of the most effective ways of harnessing your voice.
I’d like you to pause for a minute and notice how you are breathing right now. You may find that your breathing is shallow. Most people do breathe very shallowly. Taking a deep breath can dramatically change the delivery of your presentation. You can move from sounding nervous to sounding confident by simply remembering to breathe. Taking in in the full capacity of air that your lungs can hold allows you to project your voice without sounding like you’re yelling. If you notice that your vocal cords feel strained, it’s because they’re being used to create the volume.
If you tend to speak softly, practicing deep breathing will help you to project your voice. A strong voice can produce a resonant sound and make your presentation much more engaging.
Now, let’s try something.
Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. This is the posture you’ll have when you’re speaking. Now, place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Take a breath in and allow your breath to fill your belly. Keep your chest steady as you’re breathing. As you breathe out, allow the air to slowly release as your belly relaxes…just like a deflating balloon.
If you are having trouble with practicing this, I have a suggestion in my “exercise” tip below.
Also, when you’re practicing your presentation or speech, try breathing at the end of each sentence to give yourself plenty of air to let your words flow. As you get better and more practiced you’ll be able to improve and need to take a breath after two or even possibly three sentences.
“I was preparing for four presentations and although already comfortable with speaking in front of an audience, I was looking to hone my skills. We worked through all of the presentations together and I felt confident and prepared as I delivered them.“
Pauses offer silence between your words and sentences. This can allow you to transition from an important point or idea during your presentation.
Often, when we become nervous during a presentation, our brains automatically want to get us out. So we begin by speaking really fast but we should really be slowing down. This brief moment of silence will help you to make a point and give your audience the time to process your ideas.
As an added bonus, pausing will also give you time to take a deep breath.
3. Exercises to help build your commanding voice
Exercise #1 – The Wall-Sit
An exercise I use often with clients to help practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing is “wall-sits“. In your normal stance recite a few lines from your speech. Now begin this exercise by standing with your back against the wall. Bend your legs so you are now in a squatted sit position and place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. Begin taking deep belly breaths and on an exhale speak a few sentences. Notice the difference? “Wall-sits” will help you focus on your breathing into your diaphragm so your ear can get used to what your fully resonating voice sounds like.
Exercise #2 – The Instant Voice Jiggle
Another exercise is the Instant Voice Jiggle coined by Dr. Morton Cooper. This technique is similar to practicing diaphragmatic breathing.
Begin this exercise with one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. With your lips closed begin by breathing in and allowing your belly to fill up with air. As you breathe out, tap lightly with your fingers in quick rhythm as you hum. You will notice the tapping of your fingers will break the “hmmmmm” into “hmm-hmm-hmm”.
Next, you can try the exercise again by placing your tapping fingers this time at the top of your rib cage. This time, you may notice you feel a slight buzz around your mouth and nose.
Next, try the exercise with your mouth open and saying “Ahhh.”
Then add a number as you repeat the sound. For example, “hmm-one”, etc.
Finally, the very last step is to add in words as you repeat the sound. For example, “hmm-I”, “hmm-would”,“hmm-like”.
The Instant Voice Jiggle will help you to find the sound of your voice, recognize your natural pitch level and range, and develop the right tone.
Exercise #3 – Laugh Out Loud
The last exercise for you to practice is laughing out loud. First, take a natural, deep breath in. As you begin to breathe out, laugh with a big “Ha Ha Ha”. Keep doing this until you have exhaled completely. Take a deep breath in again and try laughing a few more times. Laughing out loud can be a lot fun. It will help you practice your natural voice and find the right pitch level. As an added bonus, the exercise will also strengthen your diaphragm muscles.
To your strong and powerful voice!
I know it’s hard to have that difficult conversation, pitch that podcast, or choose just the right words to make your presentation come to life.