Is it best to talk slow or talk fast when giving a business presentation? Is it best to talk loud or soft when public speaking? How about your pitch — low or high? And how about no noise at all or talking constantly? The answer to all these questions is — “Yes!” That’s right. Audiences want it all. Too much of the same becomes boring and your audience will quit listening to you.
What audiences want is vocal variety. It’s vocal variety that adds the energy to your content. I’ve broken down vocal variety in these four categories: Pace, Power, Pitch, and Pause. Here’s a look at how you can use each to be a great speaker.
The 4Ps of Public Speaking
Pace — It’s easy to get into a rhythm when speaking and that can become boring to your audience. Slow down to emphasize key points. Speak a little faster when presenting supporting thoughts or to convey excitement.
Power — We know we can get attention by raising our voice for emphasis, but sometimes you can get more attention by whispering, especially if you’re saying something in a soft voice like “Do you want to know the secret?”
Pitch — No one likes to listen to a monotone. We all like to hear pitch variations. Change your pitch slightly when quoting someone when you’re telling a story. Questions are another natural way to vary our pitch. You can use rhetorical questions or self-questioning (“Should we do it? You bet we should. Can we do it? You bet we can!”) to achieve this effect. While we like pitch variety, no one likes “upspeak” (adding an up pitch at the end of a declarative sentence making it sound like a question.)
Pause — Perhaps the most powerful tool in a public speaker’s toolbox is saying nothing at all. Pause after key points to let the message sink in. Pause after questions to let the audience consider how they feel. Here is some more detail about how to use the power of the pause.
Vocal variety brings your content to life. Learn how to incorporate your vocal variety into an authentic, conversational tone, and your presentations will rock!