20/12/2011

By Gavin Meikle, Head Of Learning And Founder Of Inter-Activ

We all know that some people have voices that we just love to listen to. Voiceover artists and some actors attribute most of their success to their engaging voices. Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously had voice coaching to lower her tone in order to sound more authoritative.

Thankfully we don’t all need to go to such lengths but we can all benefit from learning to use a little bit more of the natural range that we were born with. So what are the most common vocal errors and what can we do to eliminate them?

1)Speaking in a monotone:

We all know the sleep inducing power of a monotone drone that goes on and on within a very narrow tonal range. It’s unnatural and is almost always at odds with the message that we are trying to present.

When people are excited they sound excited. Their tonal range and often their pace increases in correlation to their emotions. Often I find that people get stuck in comfort zone with regards to their vocal range and only use a small part of their available vocal capacity.

Top Tip: - Practice reading stories out loud and record yourself on a dictation machine or smarphone app. Practice deliberately exaggerating your vocal variety to get more animation and energy into your voice.

2)Speaking too fast:

In normal conversation we speak at around 180 words a minute but when we speak in public we need to slow down to around 120 wpm. This allows our audience to follow what we are saying and to digest our key messages.

Top Tip - One of the best ways to help this is to focus, not on slowing down, but on putting in longer pauses between each idea. Give your audience time to digest one message before going on the next.

3)Using filler sounds or words like “um”, “err”, “actually”,” kind of”,” like” etc.

Frequent repetition of these phrases can be very irritating for your audience and so undermine your message. Thankfully they are easily rectified once you become aware that you are doing them.

Top Tip – Consciously focus on catching yourself when you start to use these sounds and focus on deliberately replacing them with a silence.


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