Project your voice? In the age of microphones it may seem silly to talk about. Even Broadway actors now use microphones and the slightest whisper can be detected. But projecting your voice is about more than being heard in the back of the room. It’s also about projecting your personality and increasing a perception of confidence. Also, keep in mind that many presentations take place in board rooms where you might not have a microphone…even in 2017.
So, how do you do it? Some people have just decided they’re not very loud. They’ve just decided that they have a “quiet speaking voice.” But, with a few of the tips below even the quietest person can have their voice carry further and be heard (and felt) across an auditorium of people.
Tip One: Get more breath.
One of the key elements of speaking louder is to get more breath. A lot of people only fill their lungs up partially when they breathe. This is called shallow breathing. When you take a breath do you only expand your chest? If so, try doing something called diaphragmatic breathing. It’s also called “deep breathing.” The goal is to fill the bottom of your lungs. There’s a lot more room down there to hold oxygen. To do it, push out your abdomen when you breathe in. This will feel strange at first but eventually it’ll be second nature. This gives you more breath and will help you prevent having to breathe so frequently, which will relax your vocal cords and give your voice more carrying power.
Tip Two: Measure your volume
This will help quiet people, but it’ll also help speakers who are too loud. Recruit a friend and go into a large room. Ask them to stand at the back of the room. Once they’re there, start speaking at what you think is a decent volume. After a few sentences, rate your own volume between 1-5 (1 is too quiet and 5 is too loud). Then, ask your friend to rate your volume from 1-5. If you’re rating matches your friends then you’ve found a comfortable volume. If not, you know which direction you have to go. Another way to do this is to place a microphone at the back of the room (you can use your iPhone) and then play back a recording of your speaking.
Tip Three: Amp up your articulation energy
We all know what mumbling sounds like. But a lot of speakers are just a few steps above mumbling. Which in typical conversation isn’t that noticeable but when you’re in the front of a crowd, it becomes more pronounced. There are a lot of videos online about improving your articulation. Here’s a good one. But it all boils down to opening up your mouth a little more, use more energy in all your facial muscles. Activate your tongue, lips, and cheeks while you speak. It’s basically similar to walking versus running. The dynamics are the same but when you run you have to send energy down to your leg muscles. The same applies to speaking; the muscles are just in your face.
Tip Four: Use your superhero voice
Come oooonnn, you know what I’m talking about. When you pretend to be Superman you drop your voice down and say, “Don’t worry Lois, I’ll save the day!” When you do this you’re actually mimicking the behavior of a yawn, your muscles pull open in your mouth and throat. One way to practice this behavior is to actually visualize that your mouth and throat are the same size as the room you’re in.
So, project your voice, you’ll soon find that you can keep your audience’s attention for longer and have less people asking you for a copy of your presentation after you speak.