Episode 103: How to Project a Strong Presentation Voice that Rivets Your Audience

Woman at podium

Episode Transcript

Intro: Hi, I am Shawn Doyle- and across from me is the lovely and talented Rachael Doyle. I am the CEO of Shawn Doyle Training and Rachael is the COO. Glad you could join us. In season one we are going to be talking about Presentation skills. Today: How to Project a Presentation Voice that Rivets an Audience.

Shawn: This is a topic that fascinates many people. When I work with people in our programs for presentation skills- sometimes people have issues with voice. This is something they struggle with.

Rachael: That is something I have seen too. What are the most common issues or problems you see as you travel around the country?

Shawn: Well there are many. I think the first most common is low volume.

Rachael: What?

Shawn: Low volume.

Rachael: What?

Shawn: Oh very funny. Seriously if you can’t be heard that could be a problem.

Rachael: No that is so true. We have research on this: A 2014 study found that in an experimental condition that made people with SAD ( social anxiety disorder) feel excluded, they subsequently showed decreased voice confidence, in contrast to those without SAD. By the way SAD is simply feel nervous or anxious when speaking in form of a group – it’s a form of social anxiety disorder. So how do we solve it?

Shawn: Fascinating research. It’s simple and complex at the same time. It’s all about being B.A.D.

Rachael: BAD?

Shawn: It’s an acronym for breathe, articulate and drive.

RD: So let’s talk about B.

Shawn: The first one is breathe. The reason many people get soft on vocal tone is they stop breathing. They shallow breath or chest breathe. So when they try to project their voice they don’t have enough air!

Rachael: So how to improve that?

Shawn: Practice breathing. (explain exercise) think of it like a bagpipe.

Rachael: That is really fascinating…..O.K. so what is the A?

Shawn Articulation- sometimes when people get nervous they have low volume and mumbling.. so if you mumble- you won’t make the volume higher, but you will be able to be heard better.

Rachael: True. How does that get avoided?

Shawn: One is slow down the pace or speed. When we slow the pace a little, it eliminate some of the mumbling and improves articulation. Another idea is to record yourself when you present and go back and listen to it. With our phones we have now- that is easy to do. Do you sound clear and easy to understand? Also obviously- you can practice at Toastmasters and get feedback.

Rachael: So we have breathe and articulate and now the D is?

Shawn: Drive. When you speak drive the volume to the very back row. It is an idea- many people have said “present to the back of the room.” What they really should say is “ project your voice to the back of the room.” (train station speaker story) if you are in a large room request a mic and don’t turn one down. So that is how to make your presentation heard.

Rachael: I have always been fascinated by what makes a speaker riveting- I have always admired that. (tell Leo Buscaglia story)

Shawn: I agree with you- so what made him (LEO) so riveting?

Rachael: Hmmm…Several things.. the stories, the passion, energy and he truly cared about his subject.

Shawn: Great so since we are talking about a strong presentation voice, you mentioned an important key. That is passion, or some call it energy. If you care about what you are saying or presenting- it makes it more interesting for the audience- and you will project more vocally and have more power! What’s funny is many people tell me when I say this- that they have a boring topic it but it’s not the topic- it’s the presenter.

Rachael: What is someone is talking about quantum physics or something very technical, dry topic ?

Shawn: Find the passion in it. What excites you about it?

Rachael: What if it is something at work you are assigned to- how do you find the winning edge?

Shawn: You have to find the excitement in it so you can be passionate.

Rachael: Can you give an example?

Shawn: I recently saw an IT guy ( tell story )

Rachael: That is true in many cases we have seen presenters that really had passion. Any other qualities or techniques that make a speaker’s voice powerful.

Shawn: It not about the voice per say but about the vocal variety that can be powerful. Go slower, go faster, and use pauses. It makes your presentation more interesting.

Rachael: That is true.

Shawn: Let’s talk about going slower in certain parts. ( give example)

Rachael: I have seen people taking notes- but look up when a presenter slows down or pauses. It really gets their attention!

Shawn: It sure does. I mean singers do it. They sing slower and faster- they pause for certain parts in the music. They also sometimes go faster. When presenters are monotone – it’s because they don’t have variety- it’s all the same.

Rachael: OK.. I agree. No one wants monotone! What else can we do?

Shawn: Just learn how to have the right mindset and relax. If you are relaxed and having fun- you will be able to project a strong presentation voice.

Rachael: How do we do that and get past the nerves?

Shawn: Listen to our Winning Edge podcast on How to become a fearless presenter- but in the meantime- think about this.. a lot of this is mental.

Rachael: A great quote about that: Henry Ford said “weather you think you can or think you can’t your’e right!”

Shawn: So you have to decide you can do this! On our next program we will be talking about The best practices for gaining presentation expertise. Join us!

Rachael: We will be here sharing more ideas with you on getting YOUR Winning Edge!

Rachael and Shawn Doyle