A commanding voice is not just for high-powered executives, politicians, or star performers. We all have moments when we need to convey a strong message, and we rely on our voice to do it. Maybe you have to get your kids in the car, negotiate a raise, or you’re just hoping for that second date. A weak voice can hold you back. Here are a few tips for how to strengthen your voice for speaking your truth.
A commanding voice conveys confidence, gets you attention, and can even get you what you want. The reason is, you’re giving people something to respond to.
Conversely, a weak voice can often get ignored. This may be because people are reacting to your nervousness. Or you’re not speaking with enough conviction or emotion to get attention.
Why is my voice weak?
Just to clarify, when your voice sounds weak, this is to the average person on the street and based on how someone reads your personality.
If people often ignore you, the issue just may be that your voice is conveying weakness rather than strength.
Well, rest assured because you can change that. Here are a few reasons your voice may sound weak and key tips to strengthen it.
1. You are speaking too softly.
It’s natural to be nervous or scared. But that can show in your voice. When you’re nervous you may not speak as confidently as you normally would. Maybe you have social anxiety, are scared to ask for something, or are a little shy around someone you like. If you lead with fear in your voice, it may make the person you’re speaking with uncomfortable and create the exact nightmare scenario you have in your head.
How to strengthen it: dive deep.
Diving deep into your vocal range and exploring the lower part of your voice can convey power. The lowest part of your voice is called the chest voice. There are a lot more vibrations because you’re fully flexing your vocal muscles. Speaking from deeper in your Chest voice can give you a more commanding presence. Check out more in this helpful video.
2. You don’t sound sure of yourself.
One key to a confident and strong voice is speaking with authority and confidence. A key to doing that is to sound like you know what you’re talking about. When you sound unsure this can lead people to question your authority and convey weakness in your argument. If you’re not sure of what you’re saying, why would other people become sure of it? But fear not!
How to strengthen it: cut out filler words.
It’s a natural instinct to want to fill the silence, especially when we’re nervous. It’s like trying to fill the empty room with all of your nervous energy. But instead, lean into silence. We often fill the silence or try to cover natural pauses with filler words like “um” or “like.”
These filler words don’t naturally have a place in the conversation. They can undercut valid points and make you seem like you don’t know what you’re talking about. Sometimes, silence is more powerful and can convey more strength than words that don’t mean anything.
3. You’re throwing it away.
In the acting world, a director may say, “Throw it away.” They’re roughly saying, don’t try as hard. A lot of actors will come into an audition room prepared with all kinds of ideas and strong choices. When they throw it away the line ends up coming out casually. They just say the line as written.
Now, you may be doing this, too. But it has the opposite effect. For actors, that note is to make them sound more like normal people. You may be throwing away the key point you’re trying to make. If you’re saying the most important part of your argument, conversation, or speech in the most subtle way it won’t pack a punch.
If you’re nervous or doubt yourself it’s natural. But if the people you’re speaking with can’t sense the importance they won’t listen. Sometimes how you say something can be more important than what you say. So if you take the most important point and just throw it away others will, too.
How to strengthen it: take time to collect your words.
Part of our instinct to fill the silence can cause us to speak more than we need to. Take a natural pause to collect your thoughts. This way you ensure you don’t say a ton of things and let your most important point fall by the wayside. Whether because of exhaustion, confusion, or subconscious sabotage “throwing it away” can throw you off.
Instead, make your most important point with conviction. Confidently stating your most important thought can be way more powerful than saying a lot of pretty words, a large jumble of facts, or overstating your argument. If you want to sound confident sometimes less it more. Collecting your thoughts and confidently expressing yourself ensures your audience knows exactly what you mean.
4. You’re talking too much.
In his book, The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene advises, “Always say less than is necessary.” He elaborates, “The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.” Now, this may not seem like it has to do with your voice. People who talk a lot can have really strong voices. But it can make you seem weak.
The more you speak the more likely you are to put your foot in your mouth. Overtalking can undercut your point or even your credibility. It’s natural to want to think out loud. Many people process verbally. But talking too much can hit your audience like a wall. Then they’re more likely to ignore you. No one wants to engage with someone who will not listen.
How to strengthen it: pause to process.
People naturally need some time to collect their thoughts. While you may talk to process some people may need silence to catch up. By allowing for natural lulls in the conversation you give your conversation partners a chance to think, respond, and let you know they understand.
If your nervousness causes you to be super talkative you run the risk of completely steamrolling yourself. This pause is targeted more at your audience than yourself. So unlike tip 3, you’ll want to look to who you’re talking to and give them the occasional chance to catch up and give yourself a chance to catch your breath. The less you say the more meaning there can be in your words.
5. You’re monotone.
Speaking and only using one note can be like listening to a song that’s only one note. Would you remember it? Would it have an impact? Some people naturally hover around one note in their range. But the issue becomes, how does the listener know what’s important? What is this speaker passionate about? What do they believe in? If you always sound the same, people think you always mean the same thing, have the same emotion, so they get bored.
Speaking in a monotone can put a lot of work on your conversation partner to figure out how you feel. A study shows that people can pick up more emotion cues from your voice than your facial expressions. Emotions also help us connect to ideas. After all, we all remember books, movies, or songs that make us laugh, cry, and get up and dance way more than something that makes us feel neutral.
How to strengthen it: give your voice levels.
Even if you have a naturally monotone voice it can be important to add melody to your voice sometimes. Or maybe you want to convey excitement or happiness. Try playing with your voice and explore the different ranges so that you can not only communicate more clearly but also fully express yourself. Plus, more melody makes people way more interested in what you’re saying.
All voices are different. But some voices and speaking styles can convey a weakness that isn’t working for you or your intended audience. Hopefully, these tips can give you some new tricks to play with. For more in-depth work and ways to strengthen your voice consider Voiceplace. Sign up here for our free video training.