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Alberta, Canada
Family Law Lawyer, Professional Speaker & Author

Friday, 7 September 2012

Vocal Wobbles: How to Ease your Shaky Voice during Speeches

Do you ever find that your voice wavers when you’re delivering a speech or during professional presentations?  Have you noticed that this problem is particularly troublesome at the beginning of your public speaking presentation?  Just like with any physical exercise, you need to make sure that you’ve properly warmed up your voice before your public or professional speaking event. 

In an ideal situation, you will be able to spend a few minutes immediately before your presentation engaged in some vocal warm ups.  Depending on your venue, you should take time right before you take the floor to sing as loudly as possible or recite poetry.  If Lord Byron and Wordsworth escape your mind at that moment, recite nursery rhymes.  If you know that you will be unable to have a few minutes to warm up immediately prior to your presentation, do so as close to your time as possible.  This may mean that in the hotel room in the morning, or during a break in the proceedings, or in your care on the way to the venue you’re belting out the tunes or reciting the words of your favourite poet.  Either way, make sure that you’ve warmed up those vocal chords.  Just as an athlete must warm up before the big game or race, you as a speaker must warm up before your event.

Unfortunately, often you will not be able to erupt in song during a board meeting or conference so that your voice is ready to go for your presentation.  In those cases, you will need to be prepared to start your presentation on a solid vocal grounding without the benefit of a warm up.  Of course, you will have done as much talking (or singing) prior to your presentation when you had the opportunity, even if it was a few hours before your time. 

When you take the floor, take a moment to take a grounding deep breath – just don’t make it too overt.   If you are in a training or workshop session, and if it is part of your plan, you can then launch into an introduction round where your participants briefly introduce themselves.  As they do so, you are able to greet each one, therein giving yourself a bit more time to get familiar with your role and your voice.  At the end of the introduction session, you will most certainly feel comfortable, confident and clear of the vocal wobbles.

In other situations where there will be no introductions and you need to launch straight into your presentation, use your first couple of sentences as introductions to yourself and to your topic.  You will be more comfortable with saying your name and the subject of your presentation then you would be simply launching directly into the substance of your presentation.  You should use those first few sentences to develop a vocal grounding and familiarity with the microphone and acoustics of the venue, and make any necessary adjustments to your delivery. 

Don’t forget to watch your audience for cues about how you sound to them.  If you’re unsure, and think that the people in the back row can’t hear you, you’re better off addressing your volume at the outset of your presentation.  Your goal is to find the appropriate volume for your audience, venue and the subject of your presentation.   Aim to sound neither like the town crier nor the audience whisperer.  You will project your knowledge of your subject through your confident, warmed-up voice, so get singing!

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