Are you concerned that you sound boring when you’re speaking? It’s off on of the things that is most off putting about listening to inexperienced speakers. They might be worthy but they sound as dull as dishwater. Who wants to sound like that? Not me for starters!
Happily, there are some simple ways to combat this and sound more interesting.
Sound more Interesting by Being Yourself
When you start speaking it’s natural to want to emulate other speakers who you admire. It’s nearly always a mistake. I’ve done it myself, despite the warnings: it didn’t go well.
It’s far better to be yourself. I know most people hate the sound of their own voice. It’s an extremely common experience. There are good reasons why this is so but it’s not usually because your voice is awful. You must get used to it: build a bridge and get over it. Record your voice and listen to it until you get to the point where you stop cringing. Video is best – audio is OK if you can’t stomach the visuals.
The way that you sound is the sum of all sorts of things. Some of these are in your control: some are not. We go into this in a lot more detail in our Vocal Branding and leadership materials.
Sound more Interesting by Being Prepared
There are some obvious things that you can work on in your preparation time. We strongly recommend that you video yourself rehearsing. Use the recording to self-appraise your performance using our 3-2-1 Self-appraisal method. You can get a copy here: Seven Secrets for Successful Practice.
Things to focus on in your rehearsal time are:
Make sure that you are audible. A good test is to check if you be heard at the back of the empty room you’re going to speak in without the PA system. Just a side note, always use the PA when available. Remember that volume is relative: your loud is relative to your soft. Both must be audible.
Pitch or Tone
This is about the highs and lows: in other words, the musicality in your voice. If you want to sound more interesting, this is hugely important. The archetypal boring voice is a monotonous one. This is one which uses only a very limited tonal range. These voices will put you to sleep: literally.
If you think that you sound a bit monotone, try singing your speech to the tune of something you know well. It doesn’t matter what tune you use as long as it’s not a lullaby. Try and match music with the mood you want to create in your speech. Try it! It works!
Pace or Speed
This is simply how fast or slow you speak. Remember that speed like volume is relative: your fast is relative to your slow. It’s particularly important not to make everything fast.
Most speakers I deal with are sparky individuals and so tend to want to speak quickly. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with speaking quickly in short bursts, a speech that’s all delivered at break-neck pace will leave your audience feeling rattled and lost.
Sound more Interesting by Being Animated
If you want to sound more animated … be more animated. It’s very simple. Your psychology will follow your physiology and visa versa. In other words, your mind will start to believe what your body is doing, even if you’re faking it.
I used to train radio presenters. One of the things we used to tell them is to smile when they were on air. Why? Because people can hear the smile in your voice. Smiling will change the quality of your sound: it puts a little honey there.
Similarly, other body movements will change the way your sound.
In the old days, it was thought that speakers should remain rooted behind the lectern. Personally, I believe that there is a lot of benefit from using the whole area on the stage.
Of course, a balance needs to be struck. Too much can be distracting. Furthermore, you need to be careful that you don’t develop nervous ticks and mannerisms. These will pull the audience’s attention from what you’re saying. I’m sure that you’ve seen speakers pacing around the stage like caged lions. Instead think carefully that all your body language and movement should support what you’re saying.
Have a Go
Reading about it is all well and good but nothing like having a go. When are you speaking next? Even if you haven’t got anything scheduled now, start practicing straight away. It takes time to cement learning and make it second nature. If you’re in Melbourne, why not come along to one of our regular Public Speaker’s Forums? Don’t have the time or not in Melbourne? Book a 30 minute Skype session with me and get some expert advice. Of course, you can always drop me a line and ask a question or give me feedback.
Voice & Speech Coach