What you project can make or break a presentation. No matter how well-written they are, it won’t guarantee that you will be heard. To hook your audience and maintain their interest, you will also need to present it well.
That’s when your voice comes into play. Without the shadow of a doubt, its role is significant in getting your message across. Indeed, the tone you use will be instrumental in the delivery of your presentation as it will reflect your personality, your confidence and your passion for the subject. In other words it will give you credibility (or not).
So how to project your voice to deliver a standout presentation? To make it a powerful weapon, here are five tips to project your voice with strength and authority.
1. Warm up your voice
When presenting, putting your best self forward is crucial to connect with your audience. That includes mastering your tone of voice, which needs to sound both authoritative and approachable. This “tool” is a crucial component to establishing your personal presence as a presenter.
Therefore, as an actor or singer would do before getting up on stage, you need to warm it up. There are plenty of ways to do that, which include working on your articulation and breathing. Here are three quick and simple exercises you can try:
- Take several deep breaths – Breathe in slowly for a count of 4, hold for 2, then exhale slowly for a count of 4. Do at least 6 rounds.
- Yawn a few times – This basic “exercise” will release the tension in your jaw, throat and on your vocal cords.
- Repeat tongue twisters – Tongue twisters are sequences of words that are hard to pronounce quickly and clearly. Not only they will help to warm up, but they will also condition you to articulate better.
Spending as little as 2 minutes on these simple exercises can be enough to set you up, or at least your voice, for a successful presentation.
2. Start strong to hook your audience
The first 30 seconds of a presentation are always crucial. Indeed, research has shown that this is all you get to try and hook your audience, before potentially losing their interest for good. Knowing that, and the fact that you only get one chance to make a stellar first impression, it’s important to pay particular attention to your introduction.
Keep things simple, avoid technical jargon or overly complicated phrases, and focus on your tone of voice. In most cases your intro should not contain any complex content, giving you an opportunity to place emphasis on a strong delivery style. You don’t want to be too colloquial, but you can be relaxed and conversational. The simpler your introduction, the easier it will be for you to kick off the presentation confidently, calmly and to speak with conviction.
3. Speak confidently and clearly
If you want to be heard and understood, shyness is not an option. If you’re using a microphone, always place it in a position allowing increases in volume. Presenters tend to lower their voice to avoid microphone sound-distortion, but this common mistake can severely reduce the impact of what you’re saying, making you sound hesitant. On the contrary, be slightly louder! And make sure that everything is in place to encourage a strong, confident voice.
To avoid looking unsure or nervous, rehearse, rehearse and rehearse again. The better you are prepared, the more confident you will feel, appear and sound.
Good preparation will also help with clearing your speech of vocal tics and filler words (ah, um, er, right, okay, etc). These can be particularly damaging when pitching ideas and recommendations as they’ll significantly undermine the conviction in your voice and therefore your overall credibility. Thanks to meticulous preparation up-front, you should have the meat of your presentation in the back of your mind to be able to avoid any vocab clutter.
4. Vary the pace of speech and use pauses
Contrast is vital to the overall impact of a presentation. There’s nothing worse than presenters staring at their notes or speaking like a robot. You need to bring your presentation to life to give your audience the will to listen. If you present with a monotonous voice you will inevitably lose their interest.
Don’t be too quick as this will make you look nervous and hard to follow. On the contrary, if you’re too slow you’ll appear hesitant and bore your audience. You need to find the right balance. The easiest way to do this is to treat your presentation like a conversation rather than a performance. If you can do this and be yourself everything should fall naturally into place without you even thinking about it.
Remember that pauses can be a great way to draw attention to important aspects of your presentation. For example, a strong pause after a critical point will help it to land with authority and impact.
Pausing will also help to chunk up your presentation – in effect helping to create chapters in the story. Moreover, pauses give the audience time to reflect and digest what you’re sharing which is crucial for maintaining their engagement.
5. Vary pitch and volume
Similarly to the above, pitch and volume can provide the all-important contrast to keep an audience engaged. It’s vitally important that certain parts of a presentation are given special emphasis with higher pitch and volume. This will help you convince your audience that you care and know about what you are presenting.
If you have done your homework before the presentation you shouldn’t need to think about adjusting these. Just try to stay natural and engage with your audience. The tone, pitch and volume of your voice will naturally vary depending on what you’re saying and how crucial it is.
Mastering your voice is crucial for an impactful and compelling presentation. Want to learn how to make it a valuable asset? Get in touch with secondnature today and let us help you achieve your business goals through effective presentations.
Written By Belinda Huckle
Founder and Managing DirectorRead Bio
Belinda is the founder and managing director of secondnature. With a determination to drive a paradigm shift in the delivery of presentation skills training, she is a strong advocate of a more personal and sustainable presentation skills training methodology.
She believes in a training approach that harnesses people’s unique personality to build their own authentic presentation style and personal brand.
Belinda is currently helping to transform the presentation skills of people in organisations such as BBC Worldwide, DHL, ESRI, Heineken, MARS Inc., Moody’s, Pfizer, Roche, Triumph and Walmart – to name just a few.