Some of these notes are brief, as they were designed as queues for me while facilitating the workshop.
If I mentioned something in the workshop, or you have questions not covered in these notes, please make contact with me, and I’ll help where I can.
Some of these notes were originally dictated for ideas capture, so there may be some unintended spelling, grammar or formatting errors.
At the end of these notes is the text from my eBook – Your Voice is Your Business – which I wrote a few years ago for other professional speakers. I hope it contains some pointers of interest and benefit to you.
I have also included at the end of these notes, some other links and references I mentioned during the workshop.
I’m available to deliver an informative, inspiring and entertaining presentationfor your next conference or corporate event.
I can also create a tailored voice & sound awareness workshop for your organisation or team.
Read about or book an intuitive Voice Reading with Tim
Find out more about my voice, communication and life path coaching offerings
Browse or order from our online VitaJuwel Gemwater bottle store
Or: Presenting with Presence, Passion and Purpose
“The human voice allows us to literally Touch others from a distance; but the quality of that touching relies on the quality of our intention and our under-lying emotions” – Tim Noonan
I’d like to share my perspectives and views about presenting with you as well as sharing the tips techniques and approaches I’ve learnt in tried out that work well when you’re a presenter who is also blind
We are going to explore three main themes
Challenges and strategies for presenting when you are blind; redefining the rules of presenting to suit the current situation.
Voice and Authenticity; articulately presenting the real you with warmth and openness.
Presentation skills for delivering an engaging and memorable experience for your audience.
Today will definitely include some solid techniques, but also it will be an emphasis on approaches, ideas and concepts, about the why, not just the how, because if you know why you need to do something you can work out a way of doing it, that works best for you.
to enhance the confidence, clarity and quality of your presentations.
to improve your energy, confidence and satisfaction before, during and after presenting.
The whole purpose if today is for you to be able to build upon and strengthen your unique personal style.
The objective is not to be like anybody else – but instead to be authentically yourself – but with confidence courage and kindness.
introduction: why is it that you do what you do? Why do you speak? What is the end game? What do you enjoy about it?
Any challenges you’ve encountered?
Speak from the Heart and you connect with the audience’s heart.
Think of your presentation as building an emotional connection with your audience.
I believe that blind presenters need to be exceptionally mindful of their tone of voice there vocal expressiveness in order to keep the audience fully engaged, regardless of whether audience members are looking at the speaker or not.
Vocal Toning – using the voice to produce sustained sound and elongated vowels – can rapidly shift our emotional state, release stress or even raise our level of alertness.
Quiet humming is a great way to wake and warm up your voice, and prepare for an upcoming conversation. Humming brings you more into present moment and out of your head.
The descending Ahhhhhhh sound, in addition to releasing tension, can also bring your voice down from your head into your chest, leading to increased vocal warmth and emotional connection with others. I call this Vocal Valium
A minute or two of producing prolonged Eeeeeeee sounds – sounded at a mid note, a mid-high note and a high note – will wake up your intellect and prepare you for the day or task ahead. Don Campbell calls this Sonic Caffeine.
Vocal generosity is a wonderful way to contribute to your community as well as helping yourself in the process.
Research now proves that altruism and Kindness benefits the recipient, the giver and even people observing the interaction.
“In social situations we reward helpful people with kindness and generosity and punish the unhelpful ones – even when the punishment incurs some cost to ourselves.”
– Words Can Change Your Brain
TOLD – Thinking Out Loud Device
Ask yourself questions aloud. See if answers come.
Use your iPhone or a digital recorder to capture ideas for your presentations.
Trust comes when all these communications channels are coherent with each other.
Before the presentation, hearing the organiser’s voice and connecting with the organiser.
Matching their expectations with what you are able to offer
Arriving, set-up and Preparing your presentation
Before you begin
“Confident, Comfortable and Composed”
“How may I serve?”
Loving Kindness Meditation
Wordings based on workshop by Jack Kornfield.
May I be filled with loving kindness;May I be well – in body and mind;May I be safe from inner and outer dangers;May I be truly happy – and free.
Regular mental repetitions of this meditation can strengthen your positive sense of self and reduce fears and self doubt.
Gentle humming is a discrete way to wake up your voice and clear your mind ahead of your presentation.
As the speaker you define the rules of engagement let the organisers know how they can make it work for you e.g. ‘please just interrupt me five minutes before I have to finish up’ ‘just call out my name if you have a question’ do whatever works for you
Our job as speakers is to create positive emotional experiences for our audiences
I can’t emphasise enough how important kindness and compassion are to creating a respectful connection between you and your audience.
Also, graciousness is one of the greatest assets we have at our disposal to work harmoniously with others including those who are organising the presentation
Likability versus being a pleaser, as blind people we often behave in ways that elicit approval, and acceptance, but sometimes this means going against our natural inclination and moving us too far out of our comfort zone. We need to balance honesty and compliance
Who Are You? Your Personal Style, being authentically you when You present.
Exploring posture, Body Language, movement, Standing/Sitting
Finding Your most natural Delivery approach; Sitting, Standing, Moving
I often sit when I present, and explain to the audience that this allows me to be on the same level as them, allowing for a conversational style of delivery.
The power of the pause. When a pause feels too long for you the presenter, it is likely the perfect length for the audience to reflect on and retain your important point.
Past Present Future – If you are facing an audience: Speaking of past, turn your head to the right; present, straight ahead; future, to the left.
Re-enacting a conversation – if standing, turn slightly to right for one person, slightly to left for the other. If sitting, lean to right and turn head to left for one person, the other way for the second person
Connection & audience interaction methods
managing Questions from your Audience
Take a breath before answering. This gives you time to prepare a response and oxygenates the brain.
Re-state question for clarity. This also assists if the presentation is being recorded.
Try to mainly use self deprecating humour
Respond to Feedback, even if uncomfortable with – thank you
Be kind to yourself! Before, during and after your presentation. Know that all speakers feel a little uncomfortable after a presentation, it is often the result of giving all your effort to the task, leaving you feeling flat.
As blind people, we live in a world that was not designed for us. This is not a failing in us, but failing to recognise that we often need to expend more energy to get a job or task done is dangerous. Getting to an unfamiliar location, delivering a presentation to an audience you can not see, and getting back home all burn a lot of energy.
It is crucial that you allocate down time following a presentation, and in general allow your body as much sleep as it asks for in order to recover and regenerate.
It is rarely healthy to compare ourselves with other people in terms of efficiency or capacity – but it is valuable to observe how we are performing in comparison to our prior situations. If you find that you are not performing as well, be gentle on yourself and remember that lots of water, lots of rest and being kind to yourself are essential ingredients to recovering.
Finding a meditation approach that works for you and developing a daily meditation discipline is possibly the most effective way to stay balanced and restore energy levels.
Also, because we are different to others – at least from their perspective – energy can be lost in reconciling our sense of self with how we believe others perceive us.
Because we have a disability and are in the business of positively presenting disability in the community, it is vital that we monitor our state of mind and the state of our emotions. We have to often put on a public face, but we need down-time and need time to process our natural ups and downs in life.
Once again, Regardless of what is happening, endeavour to get sufficient sleep, do some kind of meditation and be kind and supportive to yourself.
We want to create a blend of professionalism and person ability.
group discussion: Your Talk Objectives.
Activity: what is your objective or gold as a speaker? Perhaps it is “To be the best possible speaker that I can” “to always improve the quality of my presentations”
The distinction between creating a great impression and being expressive
In the early days of speaking most of us are focused on creating a positive impression on our audiences. We want to impress them and have them think we are clever and wise.
In the longer run, though, it is our honest expressiveness, our authenticity our openness and realness that leaves the long-lasting impression with the audience.
It costs much less energy to be yourself, especially when you are a speaker.
Of course, in order to be yourself you need to continuously be doing work on and with yourself, in order to move toward the person you aspire to truely be. Wisdom comes with life experience.
Managing discomfort and things not going to plan
When to apologise: Always apologise if you inadvertently offended an audience member!
If you receive feedback that is difficult, or seems unfair, it can be a good response to say “thank you I’ll take that into consideration for the future.”
When feedback is unexpected, or we weren’t able to perform as well as planned, Take care not to over-justify yourself or be seen to making excuses.
Always remember that once your talk is complete, you can’t change it, so always look forward towards improving your craft over time.
Story telling is the most powerful way to express concepts with emotional and inter-personal elements. People love getting carried away from their own stuff into an interesting story.
Emotions equal memory people will always remember the way you made them feel
The kind of speaking most of us do is the sharing of ideas and info, more than specifics. We want to expand our audience’s understandings.
When making an important or key point, use the following process:
PREP – Point, Reason, Example Point
what is your point
What is the reason for the point – Why is it important/necessary?
Give an example or story to demonstrate your point
Re-state the point, using similar words as at the start of the PREP process.
What is your call to action, What do you want people to do at the end of your presentation?
Be sure you are clear and give specific suggestions in your call to action. For example, Register for the event, Visit a website, make a donation, tell a friend what you learnt about guide dogs today.
Discussion about technology tape recorders notetakers microphones
Microphone usage, voice reinforcement, not amplification
lapel or head mounted microphones free up the hands.
The Olympus DM-720 voice recorder is a great tool for recording all manner of things including ideas, dictation, sample presentation practise components and – of course – a live presentation. A plug-in microphone will improve the quality of your live recordings.
If you have an Apple Watch, I recommend the AnyList app as it allows you to create a list for a presentation and then use your Apple Watch to capture ideas as they come to mind. Then you can email yourself the list ahead of your presentation.
I have found the Big Jambox bluetooth speaker ideal for workshops and presentations. It is excellent for playing voice-based content and radiates well in a medium-sized room.
Snack bars, be natural and carmans
When in an unfamiliar environment its difficult to access food and facilities, so I always carry my own water and some snack bars that are energising, flavoursome, healthy and not too sticky.
I often put electrolytes in my water bottle electrolytes in tablet form are the most convenient.
whats in my pack?
Our voices have the power to unite or divide, Inform or deceive, heal or harm, give, or take.
It is up to each and every one of us, every day, to make a conscious choice of what we say and most of all how we wish to say it.
For important communication –
* think about what you want to say,
* feel the emotion you wish to convey
* and then, say it with feeling!
“Words Can Change Your Brain: 12 Conversation Strategies to Build Trust, Resolve Conflict, and Increase Intimacy” by Andrew B. Newberg This resource is quite comprehensive, well researched and covers all aspects of what the author’s term Compassionate Communication. It has sections on tone of voice and strategies for increasing empathy. Of particular interest are chapters 5 and 8.
The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, and Courage. Audio program by Brene Brown. On The Power of Vulnerability, Dr. Brown offers an invitation and a promise—that when we dare to drop the armor that protects us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves to the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Here she dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and reveals that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage. This program is available from soundstrue.com or from audible.com
Presence by Patsy Rodenburg
Learning to become Present – Patsy Rodenburg’s Youtube presentation on Presence – 2nd Circle
If you are drawn to this approach, Patsy also has a book on the topic that goes into great detail on how to achieve presence in our lives.
Healing Yourself With Your own Voice by Don Campbell
This extraordinary audio program is available from SoundsTrue.com and is a true classic on voice awareness and engaging the voice for balance and healing.
The Human Voice: How This Extraordinary Instrument Reveals Essential Clues About Who We Are by Anne Karpf
If you are interested in learning more about the human voice in society, extraordinary details of the mother-child voice bond, this is an excellent and fascinating resource.
Emote: Using Emotions to Make Your Message Memorable
by Vikas Gopal Jhingran
Tim Noonan is a voice, sound and usability consultant, a professional listener and inspirational conference speaker.
Tim’s voice counselling and coaching practice offers voice, life path and communication coaching to individuals, businesses and professionals.
Tim’s work and passion centres around spoken human communication. In particular, how we can employ our voices to build more authentic, open and trust-based relationships, in business and in life.
A lifelong student, Tim’s formal studies include a degree in Psychology and Education, a Diploma of Remedial Massage Therapy, a Certificate in Relaxation Hypnosis and extensive studies in energetic & sound healing.
With a list of clients including AMP, Westpac, Webber Shandwick PR, Optus, Naked Communications and the Australian Electoral Commission, Tim is the “go to” person for businesses – small or large – wishing to authentically engage their customers through sound and spoken word.
Seven Voice Strategies For Vocal Brilliance
Consultant Speaker Coach
How does Your Voice Sound to You?
Developing a Voice Brand
Your Voice is a Reporter of Who You Are
Seven Voice Strategies for Vocal Brilliance
Record Every Speech You Give
Review With Eyes Closed!
Build Trust and Understanding through Sincere Delivery
Speak WITH, not TO, the Audience
Warm Up Your Voice
Smile as you Speak!
Play your Instrument and Express your Passion!
Whatever your profession or topic might be, whether you occasionally make presentations to groups, whether you work as a professional conference speaker, or whether you fall somewhere in between, this paper has been written for you.
As a Speaker, your voice is your key communication instrument and your fundamental mode of communication with your audience. Your voice, and how you use it, carries much more weight than supporting factors such as how you look, how you dress, how you move and any multimedia elements that accompany your presentation. These factors, of course are important, in that they serve to augment the power of your words and your voice. However, it is your words, and how you express them that determine how well your information and ideas are received, and how successfully they ‘stick’ in the minds of your listeners.
This article is all about your voice, how you use it, and the incredible richness of vocal expression. Many of the concepts covered are the vocal counterparts of body language. They are the foundations on which ‘Vocal Consciousness’ was built: a system of principles and strategies which promote vocal understanding; foster expressive speaking and nurture insightful listening.
Aspects of vocal expressiveness and the human voice are explored as they relate to speaking and presenting information to audiences, enabling you to express yourself authentically in harmony with who you are and who you wish to become.
Seven key vocal strategies are presented which will improve the naturalness, impact and engagement of your vocal delivery. Combined with solid content, these strategies will build greater trust, connection and understanding between you, the speaker, and each member of your audience.
Authenticity and congruency are words used frequently in the speaking profession. But too often, they are only used in terms of congruency between our words and our body language. True authentic self-expression involves harmonisation of all our communication modes: Verbal, Vocal and Visual; congruency between our thoughts and our feelings about those thoughts; and close alignment between our subject area, our lifestyle and actions –“walking our talk”.
“To be authentic it’s absolutely essential that the sound of your voice aligns with the words you say and who you are. Your voice is a huge part of your identity. It’s the words you speak and the sound you make. It’s the expression of your purpose.” – Katherine Scott
How does Your Voice Sound to You?
What do you love about your voice?
This isn’t a facetious question. Your voice is a representation of you. It is the projection of your thoughts and feelings; your identity – as others perceive it. Accordingly, the attitudes you hold about your voice can offer insights into the personal relationship you have with yourself. In the words of Dr. Louise Mahler, “Understanding your Voice is understanding your Personal Journey.” Changing how you feel about your voice will instantly be reflected in how you feel about you, and how you present to others.
When people first hear their voice from a recording, many have a negative reaction to how it sounds. Taking into account any distortions and limitations of the technology, what you hear from a recording is largely how everyone else – other than you – hears your voice. So, if there are aspects of your voice that you don’t like, then it is worth spending some time and attention to explore the ‘what’ and the ‘why’, and determine if you are able to remedy some of your less preferred vocal characteristics. It is also just as important to see if you can accept, embrace and work with the natural characteristics inherent in your voice, since they are currently part of who you are.
Working on your voice characteristics can either be done in partnership with a great voice coach, or it can be done as a personal journey of self-discovery and greater awareness, with the aid of a digital voice recorder.
When you listen closely to a recording of your own voice, you are given the gift of hearing vocal elements that are in your voice, but which are normally concealed from your conscious awareness. A recording helps you get a glimpse into your shadow self, or what I call the Vocological echo.
“Through the practice of deep listening, you will encounter your voice as your very self, with an acceptance and compassion that inspires a deeply felt process of self-inquiry.”
– Cloé Goodchild
Voice Researcher, Dr. Lillian Glass, found that people with attractive voices are perceived as being more visually attractive than people with nasal or less attractive voices, independent of their actual looks. For this reason alone, working on your voice is well worth the investment, and particularly so if, as a speaker, your voice is your business.
One strategy for improving the quality of your voice is to seek out beautiful speaking voices in your life. Exploring the elements of those voices that you find attractive will assist you to move closer to developing a personal voice which you find pleasing and satisfying.
Find a pen and paper or other note-taking device. Optionally close your eyes.
Without too much thought, write seven words that come into your mind, when you think about your voice.
Next, listen to a recording of your voice, maybe your voicemail message, and repeat the exercise.
Take some time to meditate on the words you wrote down, and what perceptions might have led to them.
Also ask two or three friends who are prepared to give you honest input, to list three words or attributes each, that come to mind in relation to your voice.
You may be surprised to find that some things you don’t like about your voice are considered attractive and positive by others. Accordingly, it is very important to appreciate that just because you don’t initially like aspects of your voice, doesn’t mean that others will dislike them! Your potential disliking of your recorded voice is largely a by-product of the discrepancy between how your voice has always sounded to you from the inside (through bone conduction first and through the air second) and how your voice actually sounds to others from the outside (through the air only). As you hear more recordings of yourself, you will develop a greater appreciation for your unique vocal attributes.
Once you have your content clear and sorted, creating your individual vocal brand is the next logical step on the path to becoming an outstanding speaker.
A personal vocal brand is a unique tone and speaking style that strengthens and enhances your personal and professional image. Speak with us about developing an authentic vocal brand that is in alignment with how you perceive yourself, and who you aspire to be
Think about how much time, money and attention you invest in developing, managing and maintaining your visual image. You do this because you understand that how you visually present can significantly impact on how you are perceived by others.
Now consider how beneficial it would be for you if you invested some time and effort into developing, managing and maintaining your vocal image, and how significantly that would influence how you are perceived by others – Every Single Time You Speak.
Establishing a personal vocal brand, which elegantly expresses who you are and what you represent, combined with a comfortable, confident and composed vocal delivery style, will lay down the stable baseline on which you can layer your content, information and ideas.
“…the voice is a natural reporter of the conditions, emotions, thoughts, and purposes (character and states or conditions) of the individual.”
– ‘Expressive Voice Culture’ by Jessie Eldridge Southwick, (1908)
In addition to the tones generated by a voice in normal hearing range, the voice also contains subtle harmonics (overtones) that the listener’s body resonates and entrains to. When a person speaks, the listener hears them through the ears, the bones of the skull, throat, chest cavity, and abdomen. Indeed, we ‘hear’ them with our entire body.
Psychophysiologist Dan Winters has found that when people express feelings of love and compassion, their heartbeats change. In addition to other positive biological impacts, these compassion-influenced heartbeats also subtly influence the vocal harmonic overtones of the voice. Similarly, he has found that when we are disingenuous, there are discordant effects upon the heartbeat and this in turn is subtly present in the wave harmonics of our voice.
On a subconscious level, we respond not to the words, not to the language, but at the deepest level, to the energy and information which is intrinsic to each speaker’s vocal signals and the resonances their voice triggers in us. This is the heart of Vocal Consciousness, the body language-like cues, subtly present in the voice when we speak, which can reveal a thousand clues about our thoughts, feelings and intentions.
Record all your practice and live presentations, for potential subsequent detailed review, by YOU!
Undoubtedly, the best and fastest path to excellent delivery is to learn to constructively critique your own performance, and then improve it. If you can achieve a 1% improvement each day, you will double the quality of your performance in only 70 days.
In 2017, the most portable, flexible and convenient digital voice recorders are the Olympus DM series, such as the DM720. For recording a presentation you may wish to purchase a plugin lapel mic so the recorder can remain in your pocket.
Obviously, it can also be instructive to video yourself for review, but the substrate and core of the spoken presentation should come first. Once you have the words and your intention set, then you can incorporate gesture, movement and stagecraft.
It is interesting to note, however, that to a significant degree, the tone and attitude of voice follows, or is influenced by gesture, body pose and movement. So, in order to increase the vocal power of your speech, you should incorporate natural physical actions that support your message.
Review your audio performances both with your eyes open, and then listen again with your eyes fully closed. You will be surprised how much more detail you notice about your vocal delivery when you aren’t distracted by visual stimuli. It may take some focus and discipline to learn to attend to the sound when your eyes are closed — your mind may search for distractions — but the practice is absolutely worth the effort!
Close your eyes and allow three quiet, slow, deep breaths;
Gently place the palms of your hands over your ears, and hold them there for about ten seconds;
Remove your hands and notice the sounds in the room;
Finally, quietly say to yourself, “I am now open and ready to hear the rich detail from this recording”.
Now play the recording. If your mind wanders, repeat the words, “I am now open and ready to hear the rich detail from this recording”.
It can be very instructive to listen to the recording uninterrupted through to its end, just ‘experiencing’ with your ears, mind and heart, and not analysing or critiquing it. You may then, in a subsequent review, wish to experiment with pausing the recording, making a couple of notes, and then resuming playback.
‘Eyes Closed’ is also a great way to learn from other speakers as well. An outstanding source of free world class audio and video presentations is online at www.ted.com
Things to listen for in the recording include:
How do the tone, inflection and expressiveness make me feel as a listener? How connected and engaged do I feel as a listener?
What things are distracting me from the core content? ‘Um’s, ‘ah’s, stumbles, hesitancy, harshness, breathiness, breaths within phrases?
What do I particularly like the sound of?
Can I hear a smile and passion for the subject? (If appropriate to the content)
Why ‘Eyes Closed’ Listening?
You may be asking yourself why so much emphasis is being placed on this technique of learning to listen with your eyes closed.
One reason is that by closing your eyes, you are reducing the quantity of sensory information for the brain to process. This allows your brain to give more focus and attention to what you are hearing.
The other reason is that when you are presenting live, you will be sending out multiple layers of information, and the vocal, how you sound, is the one which will subliminally impact your audience most!
In the unlikely event that someone were to nod off while you were speaking, they would at least absorb your attitude and intent, even if not attending to the words.
Humans become distrustful when they detect inconsistencies between what are often termed the Three V’s of human communication:
Verbal: The message itself i.e. the words you use.
Vocal: The sound of your voice, intonation, inflection, projection, pitch and speed and cadence of your voice.
Visual: The posture and gestures, facial expression and eye movement that people see.
Your individual vocal characteristics and the way you use your voice alone, can have as much as 38 % impact on how your audience will interpret your attitude and how much they trust you and what you are telling them. If they are listening to an audio recording of you speak, your podcast, or listening to you over the phone, the importance of the vocal jumps from 38 % to an incredible 84 %!
Because people mistrust incongruencies in messages, you want to do everything you can to be consciously aware of what your vocal message is, how it is likely to make your audience feel, and accordingly work to ensure it is optimally in harmonious alignment with your intention, your words and your visuals.
‘Eyes Closed’ is absolutely the best way to develop these skills of advanced vocal understanding.
“The voice emerges literally from the body as a representation of our inner world. It carries our experience from the past, our hopes and fears for the future, and the emotional resonance of the moment. If it carries none of these, it must be a masked voice, and having muted the voice, anyone listening knows intuitively we are not all there.” – David Whyte, from ‘The Heart Aroused (1994)
In order to be believed and understood, and for your message to be accepted, it is important that you deliver it from a place of openness and sincerity. As already mentioned, discrepancies between the three V’s lead to suspicion or a lack of trust by your audience.
It is no coincidence that the voice (mouth and throat) is found mid-way between the brain/mind, and the chest/heart. When you speak sincerely, your voice encodes both your thoughts and your feelings into an integrated, heart-felt vocal message. Consciously or unconsciously, people who are listening to you speak will resonate with this rich vocal message, which is a harmonization of your thoughts and feelings.
Emotions and feelings are largely indicated in the voice through the degree of pitch and volume variation, vocal melody and subtlety of inflection.
It is true that there are people, even speakers, who don’t particularly express their emotions when they speak. From the listener’s perspective, there can be a sense of incompletion, cloaking, contrivance, or even deception. The truly accomplished speaker shares both the thoughts and the feelings in a natural and coherently integrated vocal message. When the speaker connects with and expresses emotion, the listener knows both what the speaker thinks and also what the speaker feels about the thoughts being spoken about. That is a great foundation on which to build trust.
Hear Tim talk about the relationship between voice and trust: www.timnoonan.com.au/video
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people wil forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou
The quality of your voice is largely determined by the quality of your breath.
As a speaker, you are breathing life not only into your message, but also into your audience. Actively paying attention to your breath is a powerful way to connect your thoughts and your feelings as you speak. “Allow a Full, Silent, Loving Down Through-My Body Breath” This is a speaking ritual recommended by Arthur Joseph. He points out the qualitative difference between a breath which one ‘takes’ versus a breath which one ‘allows’.
Allow a quiet deep breath to create purposeful silence after you make a significant point. The meaningful pause allows your audience time to genuinely ‘feel’ what you are talking about and also creates space for them to integrate the idea into their understanding.
It is inherently impossible to fake sincerity. A speaker either is sincere or is not. The following guidelines are suggested in order to facilitate a relaxed state where your true beliefs, intentions and feelings are openly expressed through your voice. Tiredness, stress, tension and nervousness can all get in the way of sincere and authentic vocal expression.
Think of someone you really care about. It may be a partner, a family member, a close friend or a child. Imagine that this presentation is being given for the benefit of that special person.
If you lose focus, or feel that you have strayed from heart-felt delivery, revisit your connection with that special person and resume.
Think about what it is you want to say, Feeeel the emotion that you wish to convey, then… say it, with FEELING!
Before you commence, you may also find it beneficial to quietly say the following affirmation, or a variation which you find appropriate:
“I am confident, comfortable and composed.”
Communication is often defined as a process of jointly created shared understanding between the speaker and the listener.
No one likes to be spoken to, even if the person doing the speaking is clearly the expert. The audience is gifting their time and attention, and as speakers, we want the audience experience to be interactive and satisfying.
Vocally, it is desirable to adopt a conversational, relaxed and informative tone as your baseline, which will enhance your connection with individual audience members.
This doesn’t mean you need to artificially create audience engagement activities (that is really up to you and your engagement style). It just means you need to be mindful that you are having a one-sided conversation with each and every listener. You need to ensure you bring the kind of respect and warmth to your presentation that you would bring to a one-to-one discussion with someone you care about.
As an aside, if you do ask your audience to engage in discussion or solo tasks (such as thinking, reflecting, talking or writing) always ensure that any background music you opt to play is completely free of lyric-based vocals; songs with words risk distracting and contaminating the free-thinking ideas of audience members.
In the early phase of your speaking career, it is your relevant and interesting content that will get you bookings, but in the longer run it is really the audience response to you — entertained, satisfied, excited, feeling respected — that will lead to regular re-bookings.
One of the most important things to do before you presentation is to warm up and tune your voice. Warm-up includes working and relaxing various body and vocal muscles, and performing breathing and toning exercises. A warmed-up voice has more resonance, power, versatility and subtlety, allowing you to vocally express ideas more richly and authentically.
Just as warm-up exercises for the athlete help avoid muscular strain and increase performance, so too vocal warm-up exercises for the speaker help to avoid vocal strain and increase resonance and versatility. But the great advantage of vocal warm-up is that most people find that it is quite fun to do.
When you speak, the sound of your voice is produced by vibrations of the vocal muscles in your throat – called the vocal folds or vocal cords. The richness and resonance of your voice is also affected by the level of relaxation (or tension) in the muscles of your tongue, jaw, neck, shoulders chest and even abdomen.
As already mentioned, mindful and comfortable breathing supports comfortable speaking, so warm-up techniques also incorporate breathing exercises and breath work.
An additional bi-product of breath work is greater physical relaxation, coupled with mental alertness resulting from increased oxygen supply to the brain. Many traditions, such as yoga, consider breath to be the bridge between body and mind, thoughts and feelings.
The shower, the car, or outdoors, are all good locations to warm up your voice. It is important that you feel uninhibited and free to make sound during warm-up, so privacy is beneficial, particularly if you are self-conscious. If time is short, then at least sing along to your favourite music, to get your voice working.
“Smile at the Dial” or “Smile at the Microphone” is advice that has been given to new radio DJs for almost as long as radio has existed.
It should be absolutely no surprise, but there is now research that confirms that listeners consciously and subconsciously can hear smiles through the voice alone. “‘Open smiles’ are those where the lips are drawn back, the cheeks are raised and crows-feet wrinkles appear around the eyes. …technically this open smile is called a Duchenne smile, which may be the truest and most intense of all smile types”. Such smiles involving the eyes generally can’t be faked, and are more indicative of the heart and emotions than the brain and thoughts, so they will provide a stronger, richer connection with your audience. “Smiling affects how we speak, to the point that listeners can actually identify the type of smile based on sound alone, according to a new study that also determined some people have ‘smilier’ voices overall than others.”
For the best balance of voice quality and expression, your smile should be warm and open, but definitely not overdone!
Of course, you may have content that it is inappropriate to deliver with a smile. In most cases, however, your smile unequivocally demonstrates your love for your topic, and your love and passion are contagious.
“The smile is the signature of the soul; make sure yours are great ones.”
– Tim Noonan
Your voice truly is your natural in-built musical instrument. In order to master a musical instrument, such as the cello, you need to apply yourself, be guided by others, practice, and listen to others who are skilled in the same instrument. Ultimately, you do all those preparatory things for one key reason — so you can Play.
As speakers, we are actually paid to play. To play is to have fun, to revel in and enjoy an activity. We are in the enviable position to be able to use our in-built musical instruments – our voices – to share ideas and information with others. The educational literature abounds with research that tells us that people learn best when they are having fun. Clearly, the best way for your audience to have fun as they learn is for them to hear, and share in the fun you create through your voice and the joy that you bring to your topic.
Perhaps your topic is more resonant to the minor keys of sadness, challenges, striving or self-reflection. In those instances, play your vocal instrument respectfully, authentically and sensitively in those more melancholic modes, in order to strike the appropriate chords of awareness and empathy with your audience.
As a professional speaker, your voice is absolutely the number one key to your business success. But even more than this, your voice is your quintessential instrument of communication and authentic self-expression.
When you sincerely engage your heart, not just your mind, you unlock your inner potential to transform your unique knowledge and experiences into the gift of true wisdom.
So when next you speak:
Think about what it is you want to say; Feeeel the emotion you wish to convey; then… say it, with Feeling.