“No one ever listens to me!” Typically, we hear this cry from small children who long to be heard, or adults acting like small children. They stomp their feet and exclaim this sentiment with obvious frustration. But not being heard is an issue that can plague us far into adulthood. Do you ever feel like you struggle to convey information in a way that resonates with others? When you’re presenting in a crowded room, do you feel like attention often drifts away from you?
No matter how large or small your audience is, you want to be heard. You want to feel that the information you’re sharing matters to others. The good news is, if you truly have things to share that will help others, you deserve to be heard. Your thoughts and ideas do matter. So if you’re struggling to have others hear you, chances are strong that your voice–your actual speaking delivery–is standing in your way.
The problems may not stem from the lack of interesting things you have to say. But the path to truly captivate an audience comes, in part, from the delivery of your words. Your voice is your greatest tool–you just need to learn to utilize it correctly. You can learn to be in control of how your audience feels.
It’s all in the delivery
People pay far more attention to the way you make them feel, than to the details of things you say to them. Have you ever had to sit through a presentation full of exciting information, but delivered by someone speaking in a monotone voice? I know–it’s a torturous experience. After a boring speech, I may fail to remember the message, but I won’t forget my boredom from sitting through it. People have a great tendency to tune out if a message isn’t delivered in an engaging manner.
Speakers are not regularly turning to vocal coaches to improve their delivery, thinking that those coaches are for singers. But speakers seeking to compel their audiences need vocal coaching as well.
I coach my students to harness their voices to create impact. How do I do this? I like to think of the different tonal layers of our voices as vocal building blocks. The ability to recognize and utilize these components can make the difference between being heard, and having no one listen to you. Check them out:
- Pitch: How high or low in the range you speak. Your pitch gives people a strong first impression of your message. A high-pitched delivery may give off the impression that you lack confidence, or that you are too young and inexperienced. Your audience may not trust you if it sounds like you don’t have enough experience. If you have a naturally high-pitched voice, try dropping it down a bit.. Speaking from a lower pitch can convey confidence and authority.
- Melody: The pattern of notes you make. There is a natural melody in which you deliver your words. If you increase the melody of your speaking voice, you can surprise and engage your audience a lot more.
I teach melody using what I call “Stair-Step Melody.” You’re either going from a low note to a high one – walking up the steps, from a high note to a lower one – walking down the steps, or only using one note – staying on the same step. You need to be aware of that and mix it up to create engagement.
- Volume: Similarly to melody, it’s important to mix up your volume levels to deliver emotional resonance. A loud voice can convey impactful moments in your stories, not just anger. A softer voice can exude warmth and love. Your volume points others to where you are emotionally in the story you are sharing. If you combine loud and soft volumes you can keep your audience more focused on you and your story..
Think of the last speaker you listened to whose words had an emotional impact on you. What parts of their stories stayed with you? If a speaker authentically shares, the emotions behind their words will become clear to their audience. When you remain detached from the words you share, you separate yourself from that audience.
The Vocal Building Blocks will help increase emotional engagement. By utilizing your pitch, melody, and volume, you can more clearly convey the emotions you feel. People empathize with speakers who share honestly.
The right vocal coach can help you to tap into the power of your voice. Captivating an audience is possible. Change the sounds if you really want people to listen.