10 Secrets to a Remarkable Speaking Voice
The ability to communicate yourself clearly is one of the most valuable skills in business today.
And it all starts with your speaking voice.
Whether you’re asking your boss for a raise or speaking to 1,000 people, how you speak matters.
Some speakers run out of breath too quickly.
Others strain their voice whenever they try to project.
If you’re trying to improve your speaking voice all you need is a little vocal technique to sound like the best version of yourself.
Speaking vs Singing
In addition to teaching singing, I also work with people who are trying to improve their speaking voice.
That’s because the same muscles that control your singing voice also control your speaking voice.
And like singing, there are some secret techniques that can help anyone have a great voice.
I’ve written plenty of articles on how to improve your speaking voice so today, let’s see what happens when we apply vocal techniques to your speaking voice.
There are 10 secrets to a remarkable speaking voice.
Ready to get started?
10 Secrets for a Remarkable Speaking Voice
Secret #1: Posture
How you hold your body affects how people view you.
But it also affects the way you sound.
You’ll see that if we make a couple simple changes, not only will you have more authority but your speaking voice will be stronger also.
So here’s the proper posture for speaking:
The right posture for proper breath support is a Tall Posture.
Here’s How to Get a Tall Posture:
1. Stand up and place your feet so they’re evenly spaced on the ground in line with your shoulders.
2. Your hips should be in line above your feet.
3. Your chest should be lifted comfortably.
4. Keep your neck straight and your gaze forwards. Not towards the ceiling or down to the ground.
I recommend watching yourself in the mirror.
To make sure you’re doing it right, imagine two straight lines shooting down from your shoulders to the ground.
Your shoulders, hips and feet should all be in line.
If you’re having any trouble finding this posture, check out this short video.
In the introduction, I cover how to find a Tall Posture.
Now that you’ve got a tall posture, let’s move on to the fuel for your powerful speaking voice.
Secret #2: Breath
The breath is the fuel for your speaking voice.
If it’s not done correctly, you will have a hard time communicating yourself clearly.
Many people breathe too shallowly when they’re speaking.
Others will try to rush their speaking in order to get everything said in one breath.
You wouldn’t take a road trip on an empty tank of gas.
So why try to speak a whole paragraph in one breath?
Luckily, there is one breath that will give you the power and enough fuel to make it the end of your phrase.
It’s called the Diaphragmatic Breath and it works by relaxing the top part of your body while giving plenty of power to speak.
Too many singers are breathing from their chest and shoulders.
So let’s correct this with the Diaphragmatic Breath.
Here’s how you do it:
1. Use a mirror to help you make sure that the top half of your body is totally still.
2. Place your hand on your belly and take a slow inhale through your nose--not your mouth!.
3. With your hand on your belly, allow the inhale to expand your stomach outward.
4. When you’re ready, exhale and allow your stomach to retract.
If you’re having any trouble with this breath, I’ve created a short video to teach you how to breathe from the diaphragm.
Remember that when we’re SPEAKING, it’s important to breathe through your nose.
This is one of the main differences from singing, where we’re breathing through our mouth.
Secret #3: Enunciation
Speaking clearly and accurately is the foundation for a professional speaking voice.
Even today when we communicate by text and email frequently, pronunciation is still important in making you sound clear and intelligent.
If you find pronouncing words to be difficult, try using tongue twisters and practice them daily.
Here are a few to practice before your big presentation:
- She sells seashells by the seashore
- You know New York, you need New York, you know you need unique New York
- I thought I thought of thinking of thanking you
Practice these slowly until you are able to say them clearly and confidently.
Here’s a full collection of English Tongue Twisters to check out.
Secret #4: Speaking Pitch
Singers aren’t the only ones who have to think about the pitch or notes they’re using.
The truth is people speak on pitches all the time.
Listen to Louis Farrakhan’s interview with Mike Wallace.
Farrakhan is speaking on lots of notes!
But since we don’t sustain (or hold) our words like when we speak, we don’t hear them as having pitch.
Actually, you’re speaking on pitch all the time.
Unfortunately, most people are not speaking at the optimal pitch for their voice.
Some people speak too low for their voice in order to sound more confident or have more authority.
Other people speak too high for their voice and sound unsure or less confident.
In either case, finding the optimal pitch for your speaking voice is the best way to gain speaking authority.
That’s because if you’re speaking too high or low, you are adding tension to your voice.
So in finding your optimal speaking pitch, you sound better and you don’t strain your voice.
How to Find Your Optimal Speaking Pitch
Here’s how to find your optimal speaking pitch.
1. Learn your voice type.
Even though we’re talking about speaking, learning your singing voice type will help you find your optimal speaking pitch.
I’ve written an in-depth article to help you Find Your Voice Type with Examples in Popular Music.
Make sure to check it out.
2. Now select a phrase to read.
It could be a book or one of the tongue twisters from the last section.
3. Read the phrase aloud on a single pitch that matches with your voice type.
Optimal Speaking Pitch for Men:
Basses should try reading the phrase around an A2.
Baritones, try reading the phrase around a C3.
Tenors, try reading a phrase at around an E3.
Optimal Speaking Pitch for Women:
Altos should try reading the phrase around E3.
Mezzo Sopranos, try reading the phrase around G3.
Sopranos, try reading a phrase around A3.
You will probably find that these optimal speaking pitches are a bit higher than you’re used to.
But you’ll be amazed at how much more the voice relaxes when you’re speaking on these pitches.
Secret #5: Speaking Pace
The speed of your speaking voice has a lot to do with how you’re perceived.
This is known as the pace of your speech.
Speak too fast and you run the risk of sounding nervous.
Speak too slowly and people may judge you as being less intelligent.
So what’s the right pace for a remarkable speaking voice?
The ideal speaking pace is around 120 words per minute, or two words a second.
Now we’ve all had those big presentations when the pressure’s on and you want to spit out your script as quickly as possible.
But don’t do it!
The human brain needs time to process oral information.
About two words per second is all most people can comprehend clearly.
And you’d be surprised at how slow two words a second seems.
So how do you find the perfect pace for your speaking voice?
Here’s how you do it:
1. Set a timer for 60 seconds.
2. Recite the following script making sure you finish at the 60-second mark.
You can check your watch occasionally to make sure you’re about halfway down the paragraph at the 30-second mark.
My little sister Ava, who is a petite, blond, seven years old tom-boy, went to see the newest Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, and was so deeply terrified in one long, violent, dramatic, action-packed, deep winter scene in which Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, dressed as normal people, met a very short, stout, grey-haired, wrinkly, older woman who led them up a concrete walkway with a spiderweb of cracks beyond a grey, wooden lattice fence into an aging, sad-looking, grey, drab, two- story, eyesore, decrepit house whose yard was dirty, snowy, unkempt and abandoned where she promptly turned into a gargantuan doted brown terrifying big eyed long tongue sharped fanged venomous snake.
There are several more examples here.
Secret #6: Tone
The tone of your voice has a dramatic impact on the way you are heard.
If you speak too tensely, people wonder if you’re mad at them.
Speak too softly and people will walk all over you.
The truth is your tone of voice comes from the amount of breath that you use when you speak.
And tone, just like in singing, has everything to do with the way the vocal folds resist air from your lungs.
In singing, we find that having a great tone across your range comes from learning to sing with a proper balance of chest voice and head voice.
This balance of chest voice and head voice is called a Mix and is one of the most Important Singing Techniques to Improve Your Voice.
The same is true for your speaking voice.
Learning to control how much air you use in your speaking voice can have a tremendous impact on your speaking.
When having a more serious conversation, try to eliminate any breathiness in your tone.
This will ensure that your vocal folds are resisting the air correctly.
This will signal to the person you’re speaking with that you need their attention.
When you’re having a light, fun conversation with a small group of friends, try to allow a little more breath into your speaking voice.
A little more breath in your voice signals to everyone that you’re relaxed around them.
Secret #7: Speaking Melody
Have you ever heard somebody who has a singsongy voice?
There’s an almost musical quality to the way that we speak.
Compare that to someone who speaks in a monotone voice.
There’s a robotic sound to the way they speak.
We now know that people are always speaking on pitches or notes.
But some of us vary how high or how low we speak more than others.
This change in pitch is called the Speaking Melody and everyone uses it differently.
Some people have a dramatic amount of high and low notes when they speak a phrase.
Listen to Chris Tucker talk about “Hotels”:
Tucker is speaking over an entire octave worth of melody!
Other people speak on just one pitch.
Listen to Arnold Schwarzenegger speak about what a special day it is for parents:
It’s nearly just one pitch.
Which is right for you?
It truly depends on the situation.
Having a lot of melody in your speaking is perfectly fine when you’d like to demonstrate that you’re excited or passionate about something.
Whereas a nearly monotone voice is totally appropriate for very serious conversations.
Secret #8: Volume
Learning to speak at the correct volume is a huge element in having the perfect speaking voice.
Some people speak too intensely and get fatigued or hoarse after speaking for long periods.
Others are too soft and can’t project their voice correctly.
Neither is ideal when you have to address a group of people confidently.
But don’t worry, the ideal volume for your speaking voice is easy to find.
Here’s how you do it:
1. Pretend you’re on a stage in a small auditorium
2. Now speak a phrase at a volume where you could reach the back row.
3. Do this without yelling and without whispering.
The result should be a comfortable but loud and resonant tone where you could still be heard in the back row.
Secret #9: Record Yourself
Now that you’ve experimented with the different elements of your remarkable voice, it’s time to record yourself.
Find a phrase or passage that you can practice and record yourself speaking the words.
Then, listen to the recording and take notes on what you hear.
It’s a great idea to experiment with the other secrets to a remarkable voice each time that you record yourself.
For instance, one time you may want to read a phrase with less melody.
Then try adding a few higher pitches on words for emphasis.
Experiment with adding more or less breath to draw attention to a specific phrase.
The options are endless!
Just record yourself often and take notes on what you hear.
Secret #10: Practice Public Speaking
There’s no way around it.
At some point, you’re going to have to speak in front of people.
But before you speak in front of the entire company, try speaking in front of your husband or wife.
Try reciting a few phrases from your presentation in front of your friends.
The point is: start small.
Most of the anxiety from public speaking comes from inexperience doing it.
But how can you get experience if you don’t ever do it?
Some jobs even require employees to give a presentation on something they’re passionate about to hone their skills.
If you haven’t tried it before, start now.
You’ll be surprised at how well it goes.
You may even like it.
With any luck, you’ve found a few exercises in this article to help you improve your speaking voice.
Developing your speaking voice is an incredibly valuable skill.
And it will work wonders for your career--whether you’re in sales or just having a conversation about a project.
Practice these tips daily and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can have a remarkable speaking voice. If you’d like some help, you can book your first lesson at the Ramsey Voice Studio here.