Your Presentation Skills May Be Great, But What About the Sound of Your Speaking Voice?

I have belonged to a public speaking network for some time now and it never ceases to amaze me that the members do not talk about the actual sound of the speaking voice. From topics covering the value of content versus delivery to the elimination of nervousness and even ways to find speaking engagements, they never discuss the image of the voice and what it says about them.

If your delivery is dynamic but your diction is hard to understand, then it really doesn’t matter how great your presentation skills because your audience is left unable to receive your message. Perhaps you speak too softly and they cannot hear you comfortably. On the other hand, maybe you are too loud and your sound being amplified by a speaker is painful to your listeners’ ears.

Your voice may be excessively nasal, whiny, shrill, wimpy, young-sounding, old-sounding, hoarse, gravelly, quivering, or just plain unattractive. What do you think any one of those characteristics would say about you? As a public speaker, your voice is the vehicle for your words. If you take courses in and read articles about presentation skills, would you not want to do something about your vocal image – that which is transporting your message? (By the way, I’m talking about the voice you hear on your answering machine, not the one you hear in your head!)

What is fascinating is that we all have a better voice inside, we’re just not aware of it. It is richer, warmer, deeper in pitch, resonant, and has the ability to be projected without shouting. In addition, your ‘real’ voice – versus your habitual one – can last for greater lengths of time without doing damage to your throat and vocal folds (cords). This is known as vocal abuse and is common among politicians and public speakers. Hilary Clinton and Anthony Robbins are two very good examples of vocal abuse. The latter’s voice has deteriorated to such a degree that he needs steroids in order to speak for great lengths of time. That should never have happened.

Voice training is something all public speakers should consider because the voice is truly the fundamental, the building block. Everything else is the icing on the cake. Without a voice, there is no public speaking. Without the cake, the icing really doesn’t matter.

I discovered my real voice many years ago and it is only improving with age. It’s a marvelous feeling to have total control over your voice no matter what the situation. What image is your voice projecting?