Presentation Skills: Non-Verbals – Use Your Voice Effectively

Your voice is a key component of your presentation delivery. Like all elements of body language or non-verbal communications (eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, posture and movement), your voice should help you confidently communicate the content and emotion of your presentation

Your voice should project confidence, energy and authority through your volume, variety, pitch, rate of speed and pausing.

How will you know if your voice helps or hurts your presentation? I recommend that you record yourself to really hear what you sound like. Most computers and many phones now include an audio recorder and even a video camera. Record a minute or two of yourself speaking, preferably delivering part of your presentation.

Then listen to it a few times and put yourself in the shoes of your audience: Does your voice sound energized? Does it sound confident? Is it interesting? Is there variety – are there highs and lows in terms of volume, emphasis and intonation? Does the variety help the words make sense? Is it slow enough to be understood and loud enough to be heard, without sounding like you’re shouting? Are you speaking so fast that it’s hard to tell where one sentence ends and another begins?

And all of these elements depends on the environment that you’re speaking in, including room size, audience size, ambient noise, etc.

For example, how loud is loud enough will depend on whether there is a lot of background noise and whether you are using a microphone.

What is slow enough will depend on the language skills of the audience – if you’re presenting in English and there are many non-native speakers of English in the audience who will be translating in their heads, you might need to speak more slowly.

You have the ability to convey meaning and emotion using the incredible range of your voice, which is an integral part of your non-verbal communication. Learning to use the power of your voice can help you become a more confident and successful communicator.

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