Training your Voice, Speech and Body for Confident and Effective Communication
All the preparation in the world can go into a presentation. You can have an impressive PowerPoint, excellent content and wear your best suit. However, the words of your presentation or communication count for next to nothing if your voice squeaks, cracks, sounds monotonous, is tremulous or weak and it looks like you want to run from the room.
Training Your Self- your voice, speech and body, so that you can communicate fully and confidently, even when you are nervous or under pressure, is essential if you are a corporate or business speaker, professional or entrepreneur making a presentation, selling an idea or a product. Working on the quality, expressiveness, modulation, power, projection and tone of your voice, clarity of speech, and physical presence is a vital aspect of communication skills training. Vocal communication training is about tapping into who you are and seeing what you can bring to the communication moment. As a voice specialist and coach, I stress on the importance of consistency in the messages conveyed by the body, voice, words and language.
For example, if your shaky, inaudible voice is saying ‘I’m terrified and I don’t want to be here’, or your monotonous voice fails to convey your message effectively while you are trying to sell a business strategy or get your dream job, your credibility is shot. To make matters worse, an audience or listener will take most of their information from your body and your voice, rather than the words or language you use. So even though the content of your presentation might be excellent, your body language and voice will attract a lot of unwanted attention, if they aren’t equally well prepared. Within the first few seconds of speaking, the audience decides whether they are going to continue to listen to you.
An increasing number of corporate leaders, business owners, professionals and entrepreneurs find that their voices let them down at meetings, presentations, media interviews, and are taking lessons to improve the way they sound. An authentic, free and flexible voice emanating from a relaxed body conveys confidence, increases your credibility, brings out your uniqueness and is essential to a good presentation or interview.
Prior to the 1950s globally and 1980s in India, voice training emphasized on developing an elocution based style of speaking which was very different from the integrated and organic
techniques of voice training today. The style of training in the past imposed a system of speech that sounded artificial. The approach to voice training today is to develop an individualistic style of speaking that sounds credible, authoritative and conversational.
Voice training teaches you to look at the way you use your body and breathing when you speak. Your voice is your breath turned into vibrations. When you are anxious or nervous before a presentation, the resultant stress tenses up the muscles of your body and vocal system, squeezes your throat and makes your breath shallow. As a result you fail to effectively express your ideas and your uniqueness as an individual. Voice coaching initially involves an organic process to help iron out all the tensions, to release the breath, to find freedom and flexibility in the voice and to allow the full resonant flow of the voice. On achieving this, the focus of voice training shifts to learning how to highlight key words, develop the right rhythm and pace of speaking, vocal tone, modulation and projection to make an impact on the listener.
Most corporate and business speakers, I work with, say they don’t like the sound of their voice or they dislike listening to their voice on a recording or an answering machine, and yet did not seek help. Many believed that speaking well is a skill that just came naturally to some, who are leader material. Until recent years, people presumed that they were born with their voice and could do nothing to improve it. But it is not. There are skills involved, just as there are for actors, media professionals and singers. And it is possible for every individual to maximize the potential of their voice and speech for communication through effective vocal training.