There is NOTHING like a strong, commanding speaking voice. Years ago, I remember the story of an unhoused man whose voice turned his entire life around because someone heard his voice and was in awe of it! Anyway, a voice is a powerful extension of who a person is. When I think about how to develop your voice speaking, I think it is about commanding attention, conveying confidence, and leaving a lasting impact on listeners. I’ve read one crucial aspect of this development lies in understanding the power of your breath.
It seems that by mastering your breathing techniques, you gain control over the resonance and projection of your voice. Deep diaphragmatic breathing not only strengthens your vocal cords but also provides the necessary support for clear articulation and modulation. Pair this with regular vocal exercises that focus on pitch, tone, and articulation, and you begin to craft a voice that is both melodic and powerful.
Here is my table of contents for “How to develop your voice speaking”
The key, I’ve read, is to practice consistently, honing the nuances of your voice to resonate with authority and conviction.
Another element of how to develop your voice speaking is injecting emotion into your delivery and varying your tone and pace. It seems developing your speaking voice involves a combination of practice, awareness, and techniques.
What I did and how to develop your voice speaking
By nature, my speaking voice is a little high and squeaky. I hate it because I sound like Minnie Mouse with a cold. This is why I absolutely hated hearing myself in any form of recording. Also, as a professional training consultant, my voice was my tool. It was my instrument. As a training facilitator, I required a strong, authoritative voice to captivate attention and dominate the room.
This is what prompted me to learn more about the skills required in how to develop your voice speaking. I researched and researched. After some practice, my voice sounds more authoritative. Also, I asked for tips and advice from people who knew me well.
I heard several themes from them. Here are some of them:
“You talk really fast.”
“Your voice is high and sounds young.”
“You sound nervous when you talk.”
Frankly, all of these were true and may even be interconnected to some degree. I needed to work on my voice. That’s all there was to it. I loved talking, and specifically, I loved talking to influence or instruct. This includes my podcasts and my career as a training consultant.
Changes had to be made.
What works and has worked for me?
Let me share some of the things that have helped me and that I am continuing to work on. These are tips, and some are just revelations.
Let’s get to it. Here is what helped me in the past and may help you as you ponder how to develop your voice speaking.
Practice Regularly: If you really want to know how to develop your voice speaking voice and tone.
One great tip is that you have to rehearse how you want to speak and enunciate. I engage in regular speaking exercises to improve my articulation, tone, and projection. For instance, I often will intentionally speak loudly and from my diaphragm so my brain can develop some “muscle memory” and lean into using that tone.
Practicing strong voice diction starts with articulating each word clearly and distinctly, ensuring your message is conveyed with precision and confidence. I’m better at this when I’m presenting. Code-switching is real.
Make your brain work harder.
One helpful exercise I used to do was tongue twisters, which challenged my pronunciation and helped improve my enunciation.
Regularly practicing these twisters not only enhances your clarity but also strengthens the muscles involved in speech, leading to crisper diction. If you want to know how to develop your voice speaking, you need to try them.
Another thing I did was to read aloud from diverse materials – be it classic literature, news articles, or scripts – which allows you to navigate various language complexities.
The key is to focus on the pronunciation of every single solitary syllable, emphasizing consonants and vowels. Pay special attention to your breathing patterns while speaking also influences your diction.
In learning how to develop your voice speaking, think about using controlled, steady breaths to provide the necessary support for vocal resonance, enhancing the overall clarity and impact of your words. Again, I’m better at this sometimes than I am at others.
Argue them down!
I have read engaging in dialogue-heavy activities, such as debates or public speaking forums, boosts your diction in real-time scenarios. As you journey through learning how to develop your voice speaking, don’t be overly sensitive about the feedback you receive.
A leader at my job once said, “Feedback is a gift.”
To improve your speaking skills, seek feedback from others and record yourself speaking to analyze your performance. These techniques can help you become a better communicator.
This self-reflection helps identify areas where your diction can be sharper and more impactful. Regular practice, combined with feedback and self-assessment, empowers you to master the art of strong voice diction, ensuring your words are not just heard but profoundly understood.
Let’s keep exploring how to develop your voice speaking.
Breathing Exercises, anyone? Consider working on your breathing techniques as a way to improve your speaking voice. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing provides better control over your voice and helps you speak with more power and clarity. I learned this while reading an article on Noom. Plus, it relaxes you. Who doesn’t need a little relaxation?
Record Yourself: Oh boy. This is a hard one. As you figure out how to develop your voice speaking, the last thing you may want to do is record yourself and then listen to it. It’s no coincidence that I’ve mentioned it a few times here.
So, go ahead, record your voice, and listen to it critically. Identify areas that need improvement, such as clarity, pace, or pitch. Listening to your recordings helps you become aware of your habits and areas for enhancement. Aghwo to develop your voice speaking.
Pitch and Tone: Voice tone is so important if you want people to trust you. Imagine a high-pitched voice like Mike Tyson’s delivering news about civil unrest in the nation. It just wouldn’t likely resonate. Research proves tone matters. Experiment with your pitch. Practice speaking in different pitches – higher and lower. Find a natural tone that feels comfortable and suits your personality.
What if you don’t know your natural tone?
Discovering your natural speaking tone is akin to finding your authentic voice – it’s about embracing your unique sound and communicating with genuine confidence.
One effective way to uncover your natural tone is through self-awareness.
Pay attention to how you speak when you are relaxed and comfortable, perhaps with friends or family. Notice the pitch, rhythm, and pace of your speech during these casual conversations. It’s in these moments that your authentic voice often emerges naturally.
Hmmm… it may not be a bad idea to analyze or think about your motivations for changing your voice. Some self-acceptance is part of maturity.
I wanted to change my voice because as I was training workplace groups, they often could not hear me, and recovering their attention after a group activity was difficult. What is your reason?
Articulation: Develop a habit and practice clear articulation. I think this will require you to slow down if you’re a fast talker like me. Enunciate your words, especially consonants, to improve clarity. Tongue twisters can be great for improving articulation. I’ll share a few of them later in this post.
Practicing clear articulation is like tuning a musical instrument; it refines the melody of your speech, making your words resonate with clarity and precision. That is going to position you as an authoritative person.
One effective technique to help with articulation is to focus on the correct placement of your tongue, lips, and teeth while pronouncing words. A speech therapist can help with this. You can also find YouTube videos to help too.
I must admit, I felt like a dork doing one. Thankfully, no one was home. 🙂
My research reveals that by paying attention to these articulatory organs, you ensure each syllable is enunciated distinctly, minimizing the chances of slurring or mumbling.
Breathing …the right way.
I hadn’t thought much about breathing and relating mindful breathing to singers.
But, it is important as you learn how to develop your voice speaking too.
Sources say incorporating mindful breathing techniques complements clear articulation. Deep, methodical, controlled breaths provide the necessary airflow for vocalization, allowing your words to flow smoothly.
Fascinating, right? Practicing diaphragmatic breathing techniques not only strengthens your voice but also empowers you to sustain sounds longer, emphasizing syllables and words effectively. Here is an article that gives further insight: Effects of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Health: A Narrative Review – PMC (nih.gov)
Be pitch-perfect as you develop your speaking voice.
I think also working on your pitch and modulation adds a dynamic quality to your articulation, making your speech engaging and expressive. Voice modulation is about changing your pitch, tone, and volume when you speak. It helps you express emotions, highlight important points, and keep people interested in what you’re saying. It keeps you from sounding like a robot.
On the other hand, voice pitch is all about how high or low someone’s voice sounds. It’s like the frequency of sound waves produced by the vocal cords. Super important for communication, you know? It helps us convey emotions, emphasize stuff, and give meaning to our words when we speak. Cool, right? 😉
I’m so digging this topic and learning so much as I research it!
Anyway, by combining these techniques (pitch and modulation) along with some consistent practice, you pave the way for articulate, confident communication, ensuring your message is not just heard but comprehended with utmost clarity.
By paying attention to your tongue, lips, and teeth, you ensure each syllable is enunciated distinctly, minimizing the chances of slurring or mumbling.
My brother is such a mumbler. I won’t open that can of worms.
In the end, practicing clear articulation is essential for effective communication. Here are some techniques to help you refine your articulation skills (and help my brother stop mumbling…I’m so petty.)
*Focus, Teri. Focus.*
Tongue Twisters: Remember doing tongue twisters when you were a kid? Well, if not, they are simply funny phrases that are challenging to articulate quickly.
This exercise improves precision and agility in your speech. These phrases, filled with repetitive and tricky sounds, train your mouth and tongue to move swiftly and accurately.
Regularly practicing tongue twisters not only sharpens your articulation skills but also boosts your overall fluency and pronunciation in everyday speech. I started these because I speak so quickly that I often would get tongue-tied.
Here are some challenging tongue twisters you may remember:
- She sells seashells by the seashore.
- Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
- How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?
- Sally sells sea shells by the seashore.
- Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy, was he?
- Unique New York, New York’s unique.
- Red lorry, yellow lorry.
- Irish wristwatch, Swiss wristwatch. (This one is HARD!)
- Six slippery snails slid slowly seaward.
- She saw Susie sitting in a shoeshine shop.
Repeat them slowly at first, then gradually increase your speed as you become more comfortable. Regular practice with these twisters might help you articulate sounds more precisely and speak more clearly.
Slow Down: Speak slowly and deliberately. Rushed speech can lead to slurred words and unclear articulation (as I mentioned). Talking slowly is a powerful communication tool that enhances clarity and ensures your message is understood. To adopt a slower pace, start by taking deep breaths to regulate your speech. Pausing between sentences allows you time to collect your thoughts and your audience to process the information.
You can practice emphasizing key points by slightly slowing down your speech during important statements.
Be mindful of your natural pace, and consciously aim to speak at a speed where your words are easily digestible to your listeners.
Additionally, maintain eye contact and observe your audience’s reactions; this helps gauge if you’re speaking at a comfortable speed for everyone to follow along.
Practice Vowel Sounds: Work on the correct pronunciation of vowel sounds, which are crucial for clear articulation. Pay attention to long and short vowel sounds in various words. Long vowel sounds are pronounced with an extended duration, producing a sound similar to the letter’s name itself, such as the ‘a’ in “cake” or the ‘o’ in “home.” A short vowel sound is a brief and crisp pronunciation of a vowel, often resembling the sound of the letter itself, like the ‘a’ in “cat” or the ‘e’ in “pen.”
Some say practicing vowel sounds plays a pivotal role in improving your overall speech and communication skills in several ways. Besides helping you speak clearly, practicing how to pronounce each vowel sound distinctly makes your words easier to understand. It’s like sharpening the way you sound so people can catch every word you say without any confusion.
Read Aloud: I love this suggestion I found! Regularly read books, articles, or scripts aloud. This helps you practice articulation in real sentences and paragraphs.
Reading aloud plays a significant role in improving speech and diction by enhancing one’s phonological awareness and articulation skills. Research conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) suggests that reading aloud helps individuals develop better control over their vocal muscles, leading to improved pronunciation and clearer speech patterns (Source: “The Effect of Reading Aloud Daily on the Development of Phonemic Awareness in Preschool Children” – National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine). Furthermore, this practice aids in honing rhythm, intonation, and pitch, contributing to a more engaging and expressive way of speaking. Regular reading aloud also promotes better comprehension of sentence structures and vocabulary, enriching overall communication skills.
Take Speech or Drama Classes: Consider enrolling in speech or drama classes. These classes often include exercises specifically designed to enhance articulation. Joining Toastmasters offers a wide array of benefits for individuals looking to improve their communication and leadership skills. Firstly, it provides a supportive and encouraging environment where members can practice public speaking, receive constructive feedback, and enhance their confidence in speaking before an audience.
Toastmasters provides a supportive platform for members to enhance their communication skills, leadership abilities, and social connections. Their website says they ” builds confidence and teaches public speaking skills.” Click here to read more about them. Overall, I think Toastmasters helps individuals become more confident and capable in various aspects of their lives. I was a member years ago and loved what I learned about giving speeches.
Mom was wrong! Making faces helps!
Practice Mouth and Facial Exercises: Perform exercises that involve your mouth and facial muscles, such as exaggerated lip movements and facial stretches. These exercises improve muscle control for clearer speech.
Mouth and facial exercises can be helpful for improving speech clarity and articulation. Here are some exercises you can try:
- Lip Pouts: Pout your lips and hold for a few seconds. Repeat several times to strengthen lip muscles, which are essential for forming certain sounds.
- Tongue Push-Ups: Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth and hold for a few seconds, then release. Repeat this several times to enhance tongue muscle strength.
- Cheek Puffing: Puff out your cheeks and then transfer the air from one cheek to the other. This exercise improves control over your facial muscles, aiding in clear speech.
- Smile and Frown: Practice exaggerated smiles and frowns to engage your facial muscles. This exercise enhances your facial expression range, which is crucial for effective communication.
- Chin Tucks: Tuck your chin inwards towards your chest and hold for a few seconds. Repeat to strengthen neck and throat muscles, supporting vocal control.
- Jaw Stretching: Open your mouth wide and stretch your jaw as far as comfortably possible. Hold for a few seconds, and then relax. Repeat to improve jaw mobility, which is essential for proper speech formation.
- Eye and Lip Coordination: Practice exercises that involve moving your eyes and lips simultaneously, enhancing facial muscle coordination crucial for clear speech.
- Tongue Twirls: Roll your tongue in circular motions both clockwise and counterclockwise. This exercise enhances tongue flexibility and control.
- Seek Feedback: Ask friends, family, or colleagues for feedback on your articulation. Constructive criticism can highlight specific areas that need improvement.
OK. I’ve never, ever done this, but here it is:
Vocal Warm-ups: Singers may do this more than “ordinary” folks. But, the sources say to warm up your voice before important conversations or presentations. Humming, sirens, and scales can help relax your vocal cords. If you don’t know what “sirens” are, they involve gradually sliding between low and high pitches, resembling the sound of a siren, to prepare and flex the vocal cords for singing or speaking activities.
Scles are familiar to people in music. I’m a little tone-deaf, so I couldn’t hit these scales if I wanted to.
Some of the benefits of vocal warm-ups are:
- Prevention of Strain: Vocal warm-ups relax and prepare the vocal cords, preventing strain, especially when transitioning from silence to speaking loudly.
- Improved Resonance: Warm-ups enhance the resonance and projection of your voice, making it clearer and more impactful.
- Increased Range: Proper warm-ups allow you to explore your full vocal range, ensuring you can speak or sing in various pitches and tones without difficulty.
- Enhanced Articulation: Warm-ups focus on specific speech sounds, improving articulation and clarity, ensuring each word is pronounced distinctly.
- Better Breathing Control: Vocal warm-ups often involve breathing exercises, helping you control your breath and sustain longer phrases without running out of air.
- Reduced Nervousness: Engaging in vocal warm-ups can calm nerves and boost confidence, helping you feel more prepared and relaxed before speaking in public.
- Prevention of Vocal Damage: Proper warm-ups prevent vocal cords from sudden stress, reducing the risk of strain or damage during prolonged speaking or singing sessions.
In essence, vocal warm-ups are like stretching before a physical workout – they prepare your vocal instrument for optimal performance, ensuring you communicate clearly and confidently without any harm to your voice. Again, I think they are for singers.
Vocal Variety: Vary your tone, pitch, and volume to keep your audience engaged.
A monotonous voice can be dull, so practice modulation.
Professional Help: Consider taking voice lessons from a speech coach. They can provide personalized feedback and exercises tailored to your specific needs.
Hiring a speech coach has many benefits. They provide personalized guidance and feedback, helping you improve your communication skills. With one-on-one sessions, they can identify and address your specific challenges. This tailored approach helps you refine your articulation, tone, and pace. Overall, working with a speech coach leads to significant improvements in your public speaking abilities.
A speech coach helps boost your confidence when it comes to public speaking. They provide the necessary skills and support to overcome anxiety and self-doubt, allowing you to speak confidently in any situation.
Their constructive feedback and positive reinforcement empower you to overcome stage fright, enabling you to articulate your thoughts clearly, persuasively, and with poise. Remember, feedback is a gift. Ultimately, the confidence instilled by a speech coach transcends speaking engagements, positively impacting various aspects of your personal and professional life and boosting your overall self-assurance and communication prowess.
De Waele, A., Claeys, A.-S., & Cauberghe, V. (2019). The Organizational Voice: The Importance of Voice Pitch and Speech Rate in Organizational Crisis Communication. Communication Research, 46(7), 1026-1049. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650217692911