Are you a woman today in a leadership position who requires speaking as a business and forward-thinking visionary? There are three important elements that you need to project which you may not have considered, namely: voice quality, voice projection, and voice presence.
Key #1: How do your listeners respond to the sound of your voice? If you have a tone that is out of sync in pitch level, it will jar the audience to take note and distract them from your content. Your tone may sound too nasal, too hoarse, too dull, too tired, too childish, or any other extreme level. The quality of the sound of your voice can easily be checked by listening objectively to a recording of your voice, getting feedback from others, or an assessment from a voice coach. Draw the attention of your listeners with an authoritative warm voice that invites them wanting to hear your ideas, processes, or solutions. Your voice quality is the immediate first hook to your commanding the stage.
Key #2: Are you heard clearly by everyone in the room the moment you begin to speak? Are you a soft speaker, sound tense, or speak too quickly? The result of doing this undermines your expertise and makes you appear to be a weak leader. By adjusting your voice projection so you are not shouting, which could damage your vocal folds (chords), will allow your points to be heard easily by everyone. With a few vocal projection exercises that apply diaphragmatic breathing techniques like actors use can help to project your sound to the farthest point or person in the room. Understanding how to project your voice will especially help any trainers, coaches, fitness instructors, and teachers to stop straining your voice or getting laryngitis by the end of the day. You will command the stage and stay voice fit.
Key #3: Do you inspire your audience with your vocal presence or leave them feeling that it was a waste of time to listen to you? Creating vocal presence allows your audience of managers, employees, or team members to leave the room at the end with an action plan that genuinely inspires them to move forward with you. If you simply repeat facts or challenges and offer your leadership comments on it all with a voice that sounds flat, routine, or matter-of-fact, there is no room for emotional passion. Therefore, use your story or example to make your recommendations or reports come alive and be relevant to the benefits of the people you serve. Make your mind be in the moment of excitement or hope so your voice flexes with emotional rise and falls to give variety and believability to your presentation. A monotone is not inspiring but will put your audience to sleep. Infuse a variety of inflection so your audience relives your hope for the future and wants to be part of the solution. Again your breathing management will allow you to have flexible vocal engagement. You become the cheerleader of your own speech – you are the leader on the stage taking ownership with your vocal presence.
Body language and content are supreme elements to your performance speaking; but indeed, it must be balanced with your vocal impact too. You’ve worked hard to gain the leadership you deserve. Now it’s the time to go beyond the climb-up-the-ladder pinnacle and possess the stage that gives your audience a leader to look up to. Inspire with your vocal presence!
Brenda C. Smith