How can I improve the volume of my voice?
How do I improve the volume of my voice so the whole audience can hear clearly what I say, when my natural speaking voice is quite soft? I need to project my voice to the back of the room, but don’t know how to do it without it feeling weird?
Vocal projection is about diaphragmatic support, and it will feel a bit weird until you get used to it probably. Some useful exercises are to laugh or cough while holding your hands over your diaphragm (just under your ribs – not as far down as your belly) so you can get a feel for a the right muscles working. Try singing in the style of a true belter (Streisand/Piaf/Dion), imitation is often easier than explanation. Then trying getting that same quality of sound into your speaking voice. Practice a constant hum growing louder and softer smoothly and see if someone else can tell you how audible you are at various distances to get a feel for what volume you need to aim for. You don’t necessarily need to aim for your loudest setting every time!
If projection is really not your thing, or while you’re working to improve it, focus in the meantime on clearly articulating your consonants, since if those can be heard (and in the right order) then most people’s imaginations will add in the appropriate vowels to turn it into a real word, even if the speakers voice is soft enough that they can’t quite make them out.
What should I do when emotion takes over during a speech?
What should I do when talking about an emotional topic, and the emotion overwhelms me so I have to stop speaking?
Many Toastmasters report that they have had this sudden surge of emotion when talking about a topic dear to the heart. Sometimes you cannot continue because the tears may start flowing or the lump in the throat stops you mid-sentence. When this happens, and you are still within your speaking time:
- stick to your guns and stand your ground
- breathe deeply and slowly
- try to relax and shake off the tension
- look at a friendly face in the audience or the Chairperson for support
- wait until you have regained your composure
- pick up where you left off and finish your speech
Toastmaster audiences are always supportive when speakers become emotional during their speech. The Chairperson should take the lead in these situations and approach the speaker to offer assistance – it could be a hug, a friendly hand on the shoulder, a word of advice, or a tissue!
If you are unable to continue speaking, just resume your seat. The Chairperson will take over and after a friendly word and a short pause, the meeting should continue.
You may find you are offered plenty of advice and support after the meeting by other Toastmasters – many of whom will have “been there, done that!” You will be at a loss to explain what just happened, or why. The emotion just comes out of nowhere and hits you. You are not prepared for it. But the experience will make you a stronger speaker.
How can I develop and use more variety in my voice?
I need to improve my speaking voice. Do you have any suggestions for ways I can do this.
- Write or type out your speech, and include instructions or codes for vocal quality changes, eg instructions for pause [pause], soft voice, loud, shout, etc
- Rehearse the speech aloud and make sure you include vocal variety and pauses, and listen to yourself as you do this.
- Record your speech on a tape or digital recorder. You’ll be amazed when you hear yourself. Note vocal variety, or lack of it, and identify where and how you could have used more, effectively. Get others to listen to your recording also and give you feedback.
- Ask other people to read your speech out loud, listening to how they apply vocal variety to your words.
- Read the Vocal Variety booklet that is included in the new member pack. It has excellent information and some good exercises.
- Complete the Storytelling Advanced manual.
- Practise reading stories to children.
[ideas from the Toastmasters Newsgroup]
I have to give a speech outdoors, what should I do?
I have been asked to deliver a 15 minute Armistice Day speech outdoors in a public place with a fairly large crowd in attendance. There will be a microphone on a stand with accompanying sound system. Because of that I won’t be able to move around, because I’ll get out of range of the microphone. It will be a serious speech, with a range of people from school children to WWII veterans in attendance.
How can I use the following effectively:
The weather will be fine, but if it turns nasty, the occasion – commemoration of Armistice Day – will be held indoors.
My speech is in 3 parts: how world war one began, the story of my uncle killed in battle, and the signing of the armistice.
I would appreciate some tips for a successful delivery.
Dale Hartle, Spinnaker Toastmasters Club
Here are some of the responses received on this question on the Toastmasters newsgroup:
1 – Don’t use notes.
2 – Take the microphone out of the stand, hold it in one hand, move around and gesture with the other hand.
3 – Rehearse using a dummy microphone and stage.
4 – Use vocal variety – speed up, slow down, pause. When talking about your uncle, try to include a conversation or a quote, using vocal variety to emphasize the different speaker(s).
5 – Pray for rain!
Do you have any suggestions for warming up a meeting?
I’m going to be Toastmaster for our club’s next meeting and I’m looking for something a bit different for the warm up session.
- If you have a chance to do so in advance, ask people to come armed with a thought for the day.
- If you cannot ask in advance, come armed with twice as many quotations on index or business sized cards as you expect people to be there and ask people to choose one they like from the selection. At round robin time, ask them to explain what the quotation means to them. There are lots of good quote sites on the internet. Search for “motivational quotations”.
- Ask people to name the main reason that they joined Toastmasters, or the best thing that has happened to the through Toastmasters, or the goal that are working on in Toastmasters at the moment. Announce your own first to set the standard, so that people don’t confuse goals and completing the Competent Communicator Award. That is the target. Speaking eloquently at my best friend’s wedding is a goal.
- Ask people to tell about the best thing that happened to them today, or this week, or this year – you choose – the answers are likely to be quite different.
- Ask each person to name their favorite restaurant and say what they would order there.
- Ask members to introduce their guests.
How can I get excited when giving my speech?
I just gave speech 6 from the Communication and Leadership manual.
Speech 6 is about vocal variety. As a person, I do not get myself very excited over much at all, no matter how exciting.
There are a few people in my club who ooze with enthusiasm and I just find that I cannot or don’t know how to do it. It could be shyness, it could be “I feel stupid doing that” sort of thing.
I’d be interested in hearing from people who have overcome the feeling of being monotonous. How have you gone from feeling awkward when using vocal expressions to being a great, enthusiastic speaker?
(1) From Mark Perew:
Hopefully your club is a safe and supportive environment where the members let you know just how much they want to see you succeed.
If it is (and I suspect that it is), then EXPERIMENT! Try it out. TRY BEING BIG! try being small! Trygoingveryfast. A l s o, t r y g o i n g v e r y s l o w.
Someone once said that the Toastmasters club is the laboratory where we try things out and get useful feedback on what did and didn’t work.
Give it a shot and ask your mentor for some specific feedback on what did and didn’t work.
(2) from Joy Gaylord
I had that problem with gestures, but I’ve mostly overcome it now.
If you want to be enthusiastic, pick a subject you feel strongly about. If you don’t feel that strongly about anything, try telling a story with different characters, and use a different vocal pitch or pacing for each character. For instance, there is a couple in one of my clubs who speak
very differently. Shespeaksrapidly, while he speaks ve ry slow ly. Using dialog or quoting someone gives an opportunity so speak more loudly or softly.
As Mark has said, most Toastmasters clubs are very supportive. It is my belief that if a member makes a complete fool of himself, 99.9% of all Toastmasters feel sympathy, rather than scorn. You won’t do that, I’m sure. Remember, your fellow Toastmasters want you to succeed.
You might try taping yourself doing a speech, using a lot of vocal variety of the kind that makes you “feel stupid”. If you listen to the tape, you might find that it doesn’t sound stupid at all. If you realize that the same thing done by another speaker wouldn’t seem stupid at all, it may be
easier for you to do it in a speech. Experimenting helps, and taping and listening helps you find out what works and what doesn’t.
What is glossophobia?
QUESTION: What is Glossophobia and how can Toastmasters help me overcome it?
ANSWER: Glossophobia is a fear of public speaking. The word comes from the Greek (language) glosso, meaning tongue, and phobia, meaning fear or dread. It is believed to be the single most common phobia, affecting as much as 75% of all people. Glossophobia is considered a social phobia and may be linked to or sometimes precede a more severe anxiety disorder. It is also called stage fright, speech anxiety, or speech phobia.
Symptoms include intense anxiety prior to or simply at the thought of having to verbally communicate with any group, avoidance of events which focus the group’s attention on individuals in attendance, and may even include physical distress, nausea, or feelings of panic in such circumstances. You may also have shortness of breath, a shaky voice, rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, dry mouth, inability to think clearly, a feeling of loss of control, blushing, stuttering, trembling and sudden sweating. Many people report stress-induced speech disorders which are only present during public speech.
In business, the cost is incalculable. Imagine missed business opportunities, being passed over for promotion, being reluctant to attend meetings or verbally report on your activities because you suffer from glossophobia.
Jerry Seinfield once said that at a funeral, most people would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy!
Most adults realise that these fears are irrational, but they often find that facing, or even thinking about facing the feared situation brings on another panic attack or severe anxiety. This feeling often precedes an invitation to participate in Impromptu Speaking at Toastmasters – even experienced Toastmasters!
If you think, or know, you’re suffering from glossophobia, then Toastmasters can help you. At Toastmasters you will learn how to face your fear by preparing and giving short speeches on a variety of themes, with topics of your choice. You’ll also participate in impromptu speaking sessions, called Table Topics, where you might speak for up to 2 minutes on a topic just given to you. If you’re not giving a speech, you may be asked to evaluate another speaker, where you listen to their speech then give feedback on how well they did. And other Toastmasters will give you feedback on how well you did.
Toastmasters is successful because you’re among friends. Everyone will have had nervous moments in the past, and probably will have plenty in the future too. At Toastmasters, you’ll learn strategies on how to cope and overcome your fear, and get on the road to confident public speaking.
I am looking for good public speaking quotations
I’m looking for good quotes made by people on public speaking.
- The unprepared speaker has a right to be afraid. (Dr. Ralph Smedley)
- Three golden rules of Public Speaking: Stand up, Speak up and Shut up, before the audience asks you to!
- Three more rules: Be Sincere, Be Brief and Be Seated !
- It is a distinct honour to be asked to speak in public. Don’t abuse this opportunity. – Jim Brown (not verbatim)
- The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you are born and stops working the moment you are on stage.
- There are only two types of (public) speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars. (Mark Twain)
- Most public speakers know how to rise to the occasion, but very few know when to sit down.
- There are no absolutes in public speaking. (Dr Ralph C. Smedley)
- If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now. (Woodrow Wilson)
Please note: these quotes have not been checked for accuracy.
Visit the following websites for more:
How can I silence my inner voice during a speech?
by J.A. Gamache
Sometimes we become extremely self-conscious of everything around us during a speech, and our inner voice fills us with self-doubt. Here’s a tip to overcome the situation.
During my first speeches, I was sometimes very nervous. A strange sensation would come over me: while addressing the audience I would suddenly hear another voice panicking inside my head. The voice commented about everything happening around me: “That guy’s not smiling. His neighbour is crossing his arms. They must be unhappy.” “Oh no! People are leaving the room. That’s it! They don’t like my speech.”
If this happens, don’t trust your inner voice. If someone is frowning at you, maybe it’s simply because they’re shortsighted and forgot their glasses! If someone is crossing their arms, they may be cold. The people who left in a hurry may have had an important meeting and tried to stay as long as they could.
Many times your inner voice is misleading. Nevertheless, even if it is right, there’s nothing you can do about it!!! It’s been proven statistically that a small fraction of the audience won’t be satisfied no matter what you do. It’s unrealistic to try to please everybody. There will always be someone to criticize you. It’s unavoidable.
So, what do you do about your inner voice? It’s simple. Just ignore it. In other words, stop living in your head, and get into the rest of your body!
Get more physically involved in your performance. Move differently. Add some energy to your voice. Speak louder. Emphasize your key words more. Jump into the action and you’ll soon stop listening to your inner voice.
When your attention is taken up in what you say, you’ll stop worrying about what the audience thinks and your energy level will shoot up.
Try it! The next time you feel like you’re observing your own performance rather than actually doing the performing, jump into the action. Get more involved physically, and your inner voice will be hushed immediately.
What can I do my mouth goes dry in the middle of a speech?
by J.A. Gamache
I clearly remember my first speeches. I was so nervous that I had no saliva when I spoke. Here are two tips to help you when you experience dry mouth in the middle of a speech.
1-Bite your tongue
This tip was given to me by a professional actor. Try it. You’ll see that when you bite your tongue, your saliva glands are activated almost instantly. Of course when you?’re in front of a group, you make a pause and try to do it discreetly.
2- Have a glass of water handy
Allow yourself to stop in the middle of a speech to drink some water. I once had to hold the glass with two hands because I was shaking from nerves. Did it show? Not too much. Anyway, nobody will mind if you take a break to drink water. In fact, the only person who’ll mind is you. Audiences are more forgiving than we think.
Dry mouth, trembling hands, redness of face, shallow breathing, etc., are symptoms of nervousness caused by fear of public speaking.
Most of the time we experience stage fright because we’re facing the unknown. When speaking in public becomes a familiar experience, our stage fright fades away and our nervousness symptoms, such as a dry mouth, disappear.
Until you feel at ease in front of a group, take a glass of water to the lectern when you speak in public; if that’s not enough, bite your tongue from time to time. But most of all, don’t worry. Having a dry mouth is a temporary problem that will disappear if you speak frequently in public.
Dynamique de Laval, 3604-61
3rd place, 2001 World Championship of Public Speaking
Copyright 2003 J.A. Gamache All rights reserved. [Reprinted here with permission]
How can I overcome my shyness?
We have a new member of our club who is incredibly shy. English is also not her first language. This week, she agreed to be the timer. The actual timing was not a problem for her, but I could see it nearly killed her to stand up and read out the times at the end, even though she was reading straight from a prepared script. She declines to participate in table topics each week, saying ‘next week’ every time.
I’ve talked to her about what she’s comfortable with and where to go from here. She’s going to try timer again next week, and then maybe Table Topics Master the week after that. I’m hoping she’ll try table topics, but
the “without preparation” aspect of that scares her, for reasons that are probably obvious to everyone who can remember their first table topics.
Does anyone have any suggestions for making this easier for her? And more specifically, do you think it would be better to give her as a mentor one of our club members who is more skilled, or one who is perhaps still working on some of the same shyness/language issues that she is and would therefore understand?
posted to Toastmasters Newsgroup by Jacquilynne S, Big Blue Toasters 7969
In one of my clubs in Canada we have a member for whom English is a second language.
The difference between our member and your member is that our member is eager to participate and has already done two speeches. One of her reasons for joining Toastmasters was to improve her English.
She does have difficulty with things like Table Topics and things can go by faster than her brain can translate. I got a short evaluation back from her following my last speech telling me I talk too fast. (Might be true, because another native English speaker said the same thing.)
With your member, your club may have to consider deliberately slowing things down so your ESL member can keep up. Giving out the table topic in advance may also help the shy member prepare a table topic before delivery.
Once she feels more comfortable with being able to keep up, she will get a bit bolder and start to reach out a bit more.
John Fleming, DTM