Delivering a speech to the audience, is similar to the journey that you take in a train. The train journey becomes much more enjoyable and adventurous, when the train traverses through peaks and valleys, instead of just going in a flat terrain. The train changes its speed based on the terrain. Similarly, your speech should also be going through moments of peaks, valleys, flat terrains and at times, even a complete pause. You can achieve that by tapping on the power of voice.
Toastmasters provides you a platform for “finding your voice”. When it comes to voice modulation, one of the speakers that I admire is Zig Ziglar. Despite the age, his voice comes across as energetic, attractive and inspiring. Watch the video of Zig Ziglar, where he talks about the "Art of Selling".
In this article, I'm going to describe the 4Ps of Voice - Pitch, Pause, Pace and Projections.
Pitch can be used to communicate emotions. A high pitch reflects "high emotions" such as anger, happiness or excitement. Low pitch reflects "low emotions" such as a somber mood or sad moment.
Listen to my recordings:
“How dare you take my bike keys?” (High Pitch)
"Why did you take my bike keys? (Low Pitch)
Pausing is good - do you know that? As a novice speaker, we may think that Pausing means "You forgot the content". While the reality is, advance speakers use Pause as an effective tool to maximize the impact of the speech, on the audience.
When you are on a roller coaster, the roller coaster comes to halts in between, before picking up momentum. The halts make the roller coaster ride much more thrilling.
What are the situations in which you can pause:
- Before beginning to speak on the stage, to get the attention of your audience. You can easily take a 3 or 4 seconds pause, trying to establish eye contact with audience. Even an unsettled crowd will become settled when you pause for a while at the beginning
- Before delivering a punch line in a humorous phrase. For example, "A doctor tells a woman she can no longer touch anything alcoholic.
So she gets a divorce". The pause makes an audience to think in a particular direction and when you surprise them with your punch line, it brings humor.
- When delivering a quote, to stress the important parts. For ex., "5 years from now
you'll be the same person except for the people that you meet and the books that you read"
Listen to some of my recordings:
Do you know which club got the first prize….
Listen to some of my recordings for fast pace:
- During the early days, I used to play the Presidential campaign speeches of Barack Obama and speak along with him. I always feel that Americans are the best in expressing their emotions / feelings in voice. Speaking along with another speaker helps you to observe their vocal variety and improve your 4Ps.
- When you write a script, clearly underline / highlight the words or phrases where you'll inject vocal variety. I'll mark my script to say, for this phrase I'll use "High Pitch" and for this word I'll use "Low Pitch".
- Record your voice/speech and listen to it. It helps you to understand the pain that audience will go through, when they listen to your monotonous voice :) This would help you to fine tune your 4Ps and improve your speech
- Perform in front of a mentor / friend and get feedback.
- Carefully observe the little kids around you. They are good at using vocal variety and they use the right voice to express their emotions. You can learn from them too.