Voice Projections

Volume

How loudly should you speak? As a rule of thumb, you want to speak loudly enough for the person in the back row to hear you. A crowd size where you can do so without shouting is usually about the size of a standard classroom.

In auditoriums or large rooms, you ought to have a microphone. When holding a microphone, hold it at least a fist’s length away from your mouth (you don’t want the audience to hear you breathing!).

Speak as if having a conversation with someone twenty feet away or so. Remember that this is hugely subjective and you’ll have to gauge volume for yourself, but you can never go wrong speaking strongly, clearly, and confidently.

Voice Fluctuation

Nothing will lose the audience faster than a speaker who is monotonous. Similarly, voice fluctuation is an effective tool for engaging the audience.

Start by deciding which points you want to emphasize while speaking, and make sure that your tone reflects this. Speaking louder is the common way of emphasizing a point, but what is less common is speaking loudly and then almost coming to a whisper (while still audible) when making a crucial point.

The audience will have to really listen to hear and will wonder pay attention when things get quiet. People notice instantly when a room becomes very quiet and a speech is no different.

Voice Fluctuation Exercise

Next time you’re having a conversation, pay attention to how your voice naturally fluctuates. This typically doesn’t translate to speeches because too much focus is placed on content and too much caution on speaking clearly, but everyone has the ability! 

Filler Words

The most common mistake made while speaking is using filler words. “Umm, like, so, you know” are just a few.. and it’s not surprising.  

People get nervous and feel the need to fill pauses while speaking. The best speakers know that these pauses in-between speech is natural – nobody thinks instantly – but fill it with silence.

It’s okay to pause in a speech for a second or two and is often done for dramatic effect. Getting rid of nervousness (discussed in Self-Confidence) can help with filler words, but all in all, it comes down to being okay filling pauses with silence and speaking strongly and confidently.

If you feel a passion for what you’re speaking about and are confident in what you have to say, you’ll notice that filler words start to dissipate.

Filler Words Exercise

Every time you’re interacting with someone in the service industry (ordering food at Subway, speaking with a waiter, or talking to a cashier at checkout) try to use no filler words and keep track of the ones that you do.

If you need a moment to think, just pause and learn to be comfortable with a moment of silence. This exercise will help you to react under pressure in a form other than using filler words and train you to be able to both improvise and pause while speaking.