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The words you choose to speak serve as platforms from which your tone of voice creates meaning. Think about how your tone of voice can change the meaning of a sentence:

 

For example: "You are going to do this for me."  This sentence can be phrased to be:

An angry demand - "You are going to do this for me!"

Amazement at someone's generosity - "You are going to do this for me?"

Sarcastic disbelief and putdown - "You are going to do this for me?"

LEARN TO CONTROL YOUR VOICE

VOLUME

Increasing and decreasing the volume of your voice demands attention. Experiment with underscoring key points by raising your volume. Then whisper your next point to further increase audience attention. When we get excited, or we are conveying important information, both volume and pitch tend to rise.

PITCH

Raising and lowering pitch provides nuance. We signal that a sentence is a question by raising the pitch of the final words. When increasing volume, decrease pitch to avoid a breaking or squeaky voice.

TEMPO

Slowing your pace increases your authority as well as clarity. Most of us speak too fast - we get nervous and worried that we won't "get it all in." If you are stumbling over words, you are speaking too fast. The key to controlling your pace is learning to...pause.

ALIGN YOUR VOICE WITH YOUR MESSAGE

Different vocal ranges communicate how strongly you feel about something. When you speak in a normal, conversational voice, it sends the non-verbal message that the statement is not of major import. When you speak with a higher level of intensity - more passion, more energy and sharp enunciation - it sends the non-verbal message that the statement is very important.

Practice flavoring your presentations with emotional character - excitement, concern, anger, or elation. Use your voice to demonstrate the attitude with which you feel about something.

VOCAL OPPORTUNITIES

Emotional Effect

Do not hesitate to be vocally expressive in business presentations. If you tell your audience about an exciting product in a dull, monotonous voice, your words and your voice are not in alignment. It is an uninspiring pitch if you talk about "ground breaking developments" in a quiet, lifeless voice.

Personal Stories

Telling a personal story provides abundant opportunities to stretch your vocal dynamism. When introducing a new character into your story, alter your voice to signal the audience "this is the other person." Don't say "he told us to finish up in an angry voice." Instead, make your voice his and say sharply "Dammit, finish up NOW!"

When describing a tense situation, get some excitement in your voice; as you talk about something sad, slow down and lower your voice.

Map Your Outline

Note where you want to create vocal emphasis (opening, and closing lines, key points and potentially dull sections). Circle or underline words you wish to emphasize.