Presentation checklist: Using your voice effectively

Presentation checklist: Using your voice effectively

woman with bullhornIf you ever have the opportunity to work with a vocal coach, take it.

Voice work is fascinating, eye-opening, deeply personal and about much more than learning how to speak in rounded tones or how to fire off a tongue-twister. I’ve seen clients find new confidence and improve their overall health as a result of working on their voices—in addition to becoming stronger presenters.

Contact theater companies, colleges and universities, or search online for certified voice coaches and instructors in your area. You won’t regret it.

In the meantime, here are a few simple reminders on how to use your voice effectively when giving a presentation.

checkboxPause. Never underestimate the value of a well-placed pause. Used before or after an important phrase, a pause will make the phrase stand out. Pauses help regulate a quick speaking rate, aiding the audience’s comprehension. And pauses help replace “filler words” like “um,” “uh,” and “y’know.”

checkboxPump up the vocal energy. You don’t need to over-enunciate or use an unnaturally animated voice when you speak, but you do need put more power behind your voice: more breath, more expression, more articulation and often, more volume. Think of using an energy level that is two notches above the audience’s.

checkboxRelax and clear your throat. Before you speak, practice yawning, take a few long, deep breaths or hum. Drink plenty of water the day you are to speak. Avoid clogging beverages and foods such as chocolate and milk. If you feel your throat tighten as you speak, pause and simply swallow.

checkboxUse appropriate volume. Can your audience hear you without straining? Or are you so loud the people in the next room can hear you? There’s only one way to know: get into the room in which you are to speak and have someone stand in the back of the room to do a “sound check” for you. If you’ll be wearing a microphone, the sound technician should test and set levels before the audience arrives.

checkboxArticulate clearly. The muscles required to produce clear and crisp speech need just as much exercise as the body’s other muscles. Wake them up by doing some simple vocal exercises (in the privacy of your room or car) before speaking. Performed regularly, vocal exercises will give you greater flexibility and clarity. Crisp articulation helps your voice carry clearly, which is especially important if you have an echoing room.

Post by John Capecci; originally published on

John CapecciJohn Capecci of Capecci Communications (Minneapolis) is a trainer and consultant who offers personal coaching, group workshops, and webinars on communication.


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