Voice Variety: The Secret of the Great Speakers

What separates the most dynamic public speakers and corporate presenters from those who don’t stand out? In more than two decades of working with speakers ranging from top executives to athletes and celebrities, I’ve found the best verbal communicators know how use their voices to enhance their storytelling impact.

Most speakers work to understand the interests, needs and concerns of their audience and prepare targeted messages. The better speakers find ways to enhance their messaging with anecdotes, examples and stories that humanize, personalize and add emotional impact to the topics they discuss. But the best speakers are the ones who know how to use their speaking voices to achieve their communication goals.

Great speakers use voice technique to grab and hold the attention of their audience, underline key points, change the tone and mood of the room, and they have some time-honored rules of the road by which they do it.

They do it by changing the volume and pace of their speech – sometimes louder, sometimes softer, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. A yell or a whisper at the right moment can galvanize a room. They do it by ending sentences in various ways – sometimes with an up inflection in their voice, sometimes down, but never in a sing song monotony of sentences that end the same way – the ultimate invitation to listeners to take out their phones. They do it by using the power of silence. They know it’s called the “pause for effect” with good reason.

In short, the very best speakers know their listeners need variety in the way a speaker uses his or her voice to stay involved from beginning to end. How many times have you heard someone speak and come away with the feeling that the presenter was speaking directly to you? Chances are, that was a speaker who paid attention to how they were using their voice.

Got a presentation coming up? When you practice, pay attention to how whether you are using your voice to maximum effect. Use some of the tips and techniques above to enhance your impact. It will set you apart and improve your results with your listeners.