Brittney Schwertly: What does your voice say about you? When it comes to presentations, it can say a lot!
Today, we’ll discuss how to master your voice when presenting.
Narrator: Welcome to the Presentation Mentor Podcast where we uncover the secret ingredients presenters used to woo their audiences and wow their listeners. Whether in a boardroom or a ballroom. You’ll learn how to achieve presentation greatness!
So, prepare yourself for standing ovations.
Here are your hosts, Scott and Brittney Schwertly.
Scott Schwertly: Welcome back everybody! It’s great to be here. So, over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been really putting in a strong emphasis on non-verbal behaviors.
So couple of weeks again, we talked about non-verbal essentials. Those things that you should be doing or deploying when giving a presentation.
And then we followed that up with non-verbal mistakes, so things that you should avoid. So, we’ve obviously placed some special time and emphasis on non-verbal behavior.
Now, it’s time to shift gears as we promised and actually talk about some other things like your voice and the power of your voice and why it matters to own that and treat it well. And, treat it with respect that you need or that it deserves so that you can succeed in front of a room.
So today, our topic of choice is how to master your voice when presenting.
Brittney: Yah! It’s really important and I think a lot of us can relate to this us we’ve heard speakers overtime live or on video or even on a podcast. Sometimes, someone’s voice can really annoy you. And it can distract you from their message
And, in fact, there was an analysis done of media appearances by a hundred and twenty top funny talk communicators. And at the end of the day, the result showed that the sound of a voice is two times more important than the quality of your message. And that’s huge!
Scott: Yeah! I mean, that’s a scary reality because I know if someone like myself, I put a lot of emphasis on the content, the narrative, making sure you have a great story. And even the creative side of me relates to get into the design. But really that’s kinda pointless if your voice is terrible.
Brittney: Right! And for many people, your voice might not be an issue. But we’re gonna talk about three things that you can look at when it comes to your voice.
You know, we’ve talked multiple times over this podcast about how important it is to record yourself. And so, that’s important visually but also important for, you know, for audible. You just listening to the sound of your voice. So, you may listen back and think “Ok, I don’t hear any of these issues”. Alright! You’re in the clear.
But if you do hear some of these issues, they’re things to be aware of and things to practice and avoid.
Scott: Definitely! And, we’re gonna talk about kind of my pet peeve. Probably, the biggest one here of the three first. And that’s vocal fry.
And if you’re not familiar with vocal fry, it’s kinda fancy way, or maybe, a way to modernize it. It’s sort of like, Kardashian speak. It’s, you basically have four register, four registers to your voice. It’s where you choose to speak in that fourth register. And bear with me, but I’m gonna try to duplicate it but it’s basically when you speak from this register.
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” (speaking on a fourth register).
That’s Kardashian speak and so and when you hover there, you stay there and it’s part of your everyday dialogue. That’s where you’re falling victim to vocal fry.
Brittney: And the most, I see it is when people is in their sentences that way. Uhm..
They will often kind of trail off in their sentences that waaaaaaay. (Brittney mimicking vocal fry and Scott laughing at her)
So, if you watch any reality television show that has, as you guys, if you listen to the last episode. Know that we do (Scott laughing again). You will find a lot of young women doing this.
And women do these more than men but men do it too. And I think, part of it is we’ll talk later about the masculine voice and that authority that it gives. And we just assume that about lowering our register that low. That we’re gonna gain that masculine voice but its too much.
Scott: Uhum, Yeah! And there has been studies done that it actually, you come across on being less confident and less educated when you use this practice. And so, again, if it’s probably a popular in pop-culture, it’s probably not popular in business. So…
Brittney: But I will say that there’s a studies done on how people perceive it in age groups. And younger people tend to find this more normal. Where people over forty, which we’re not saying you’re old because Scott and I, we’re on that cusp with you.
People over forty tend to view it as less confident, less educated, less trustworthy. So, I think it is important when it comes to vocal fry to know your audience. And I would say, most audiences are gonna include at least half of those people are gonna be over forty.
But you know, if you’re speaking to twenty somethings and this doesn’t seem to bother them or bother you. Then just be aware that it could bother someone that’s older.
Scott: And so, if you’re starting to freak out right now, thinking “Oh! Wow! What did I do in my last presentation that I actually deploy vocal fry?!?”.
If you’re starting to second guess or maybe you’re worried of your upcoming presentation, we just have a few very quick suggestions. Things that you can be mindful of to make sure you don’t fall into this trap.
So, the first one is to listen. And that’s to listen to your voice. You know, maybe you have people call you out if they catch you doing it and just, you know, general conversation and everyday life. Or if you’re grabbing coffee with a friend.
But to listen and that kinda build the next one which is the whole idea of self-awareness.
Brittney: Right! Yeah, I would even suggest to maybe even recording yourself, having a conversation with a friend. We all have a cellphone. You can record yourself and just go back and listen to yourself in that conversation.
And just being self aware when you do it and, you know, are you do it casually? Are you doing, or are you automatically kind of subconsciously fixing it when you’re talking professional circles.
Just being aware that you have that propensity to do it would be huge.
Scott: Yeah! So listen which is really close to the whole idea of being self-aware and then the third thing which is pretty simple. I’m not rocket science here but breath. And learn how to slow down and kinda, again catch yourself in those moments and calm yourself.
Brittney: Yeah! And, I’ve heard you recommend taking a breath after every sentence.
Brittney: Because, (Laughing) if you go through too many sentences without taking your breath, you’re gonna run out of breath and vocal fry is gonna happen even when you don’t intend it.
Scott: Exactly! Alright! So, that’s vocal fry. Definitely something to be more mindful of moving forward. Particularly, in this day and age where it is becoming, in some cases more mainstream with younger folks.
So, we’re gonna talk about next, number two which is kind of a cousin, or a distant cousin of vocal fry and that’s the whole idea of uptalk or upspeak. And the best way to sort of describe this is someone who grew up in California. It’s Valley girl talk (Brittney’s laughing). It’s where you take a statement and you turn it into a question.
And again, this is another one of these things that people can often fall victim too.
Brittney: Yeah! We can give you a great example.
So, I’ll have Scott start off by reading JFK’s 1961 inaugural address the way it’s meant to be read.
Scott: Yeah! So, you probably all familiar with this speech. And if you’re not familiar with it as soon as I read one line from it, you’ll like “Oh yeah! I remember that speech.”
So,, I’m just gonna read one sentence again from JFK’s 1961 inaugural address;
“And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do you for your country.”
Now we’ll do the uptalk version.
Brittney: On the flip side if JFK spoke in uptalk, (Scott and Brittney are both laughing) this is may, this maybe what it sounds like;
“And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do you for your country.”
So, you can see, uptalk has a lot of question marks or you know at the end of your sentence, you voice comes up. And what that tends to do is, put a question mark where there shouldn’t be a question mark.
When you’re trying to make a statement of, you know, solidarity and this is, this is the truth. This is what’s happening. Let’s all agree on this statement. You’re putting a question there. And that question can be harmful.
Scott: Yeah! Because, you’re basically looking for affirmation or validation and all that’s gonna do is reduce your credibility as a presenter. So, lots of red flags here.
Don’t add question marks where you don’t need that question marks. It’s as simple as that. And so, one of the recommendation to you to fix this, it’s kind of the same thing as we recommend it from vocal fry.
It’s being more self-aware. It’s listening to yourself. Hearing your presentations back. Get those recorded. Reading, pausing, all these different things to again, allow you to have more control over that specific moment.
Brittney: Yeah! And you may not, I mean, that obviously, that example was over exaggerated. We did multiple instances of uptalking one sentence. And so, you may not do it every sentence but just be aware when you’re trying to make powerful statement or a statement of confidence to really do it in a way that you’re avoiding that and not seeking affirmation in that way.
Scott: Exactly! Alright, at this point, we’ve talked about two of the three that we’d like to address you how to really master your voice on presenting. So, spent a little bit of time here talking about vocal fry followed that up, we’re talking about uptalk or upspeak.
So what we’re gonna do now is we’re gonna take a quick break and we’re gonna come back and we’re gonna talk the third item which is really the importance of variety.
So, stay with us and we’ll be right back!
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Brittney: Hey, guys! Welcome back! Today as reminder, we’re talking about how to master your voice when presenting.
And we have win over Scott two biggest voice pet peeves
(Brittney and Scott are both laughing)
Brittney: Which are vocal fry and uptalk. So, two really common things that we see culturally, particularly in the younger generation. And so, just be aware of these and now that you’re aware of them, you’re gonna hear them all the time. (Brittney and Scott are both laughing)
It’s just drive you crazy too, probably. But we’re gonna jump into the third point which is the variety in your voice.
So there is an evaluation of TED’s speakers that concluded the most successful TED’s speakers have 30.5% greater vocal variety.
Scott: Yeah! Which is, I mean, that makes absolute sense coz if you think about when is gonna be the presentation where the person is monotone. Where you actually enjoy that talk?
Brittney: They’re amazing! (Laughing)
Scott: Yeah! You don’t. Those talks go to your head so that’s make the absolute sense. Yeah, you wanna have that variety in your tone.
And I know, speaking of studies, I know there’s a study done by St. Eagle State in Columbia Business School where they basically found out that again, this variety in volume actually had a perception of increased authority from the speakers.
Scott: All the more reason to mix up when you’re up there in front of the room.
Brittney: Yeah, I think tone is important and we’re, most of us are aware of tone. We, you know, we all hate monotone speakers, you can all probably remember that high school teacher (laughing) who had a monotone voice.
And so, it’s just not interesting, and so volume is also important but the last thing to really be aware of is your pitch. A more masculine pitch does have an association with increased authority. We’ve kinda have mentioned that earlier when talking about vocal fry but you don’t want to fix it so much. You don’t wanna fix it so much that you do lead yourself down into the vocal fry because that is again, you’re gonna lose all the authority you’re trying to gain.
So, I think that goes back to listening to your voice, recording yourself in casual conversations, and recording yourself in presentations. And not only listening with your own ears but maybe having a friend or a trusted colleague or two listen and give you some pointers on “does this sound normal?”, “does this sound like I’m baking it?”, “is it too low?”, that kind of thing. But thinking about a variety of all three of those things will really increase your authority and trustworthiness in your audience. Not only, but increasing their interest in what you are about to say.
Scott: And going back to what you were saying about volume, again, just another opportunity to switch things up. You know, what if we opened up this podcast or this episode and It’s like “Hi I’m Scott, and welcome to this podcast” (monotone and low volume).
Scott: Or you compare that to “Hi! I’m Scott and welcome to the podcast! So glad you’re here” (lively with variety in volume).
Scott: Again, just a simple change in volume
Scott: Communicates so much as far as enthusiasm,
Scott: Energy passion, etc. So, capitalize on those moments..
Scott: (laughing) ..To add variety and diversify as you are speaking.
Brittney: Yeah, And you know, just think about the emotion you are trying to convey whether enthusiasm or empathy ahm, or you know, shock and awe or whatever would it be, you’re voice should match that. Just like what we’ve talked about in the previous two podcast how your hand gestures and body language should match that so should your voice.
Scott: Uhum, exactly.
Brittney: Well, if you have any you know, if you go through this list and you find yourself committing some of these verbal sins (Britney and Scott laughing) when it comes to presentations and you’re looking for more resources. There is a great TED Talk out there by Julian Treasure. It was done in 2013, it has over 28 million views. And the title of it is “How To Speak So That People Want To Listen” and he gives great vocal exercises as well as some tips on how to create empathy in our voice.
Scott: Uhum, and if you head over to presentationmentor.com, we share this podcasts over there as well. So I’ll make sure to provide a link to that TED Talk in case you can’t remember. Maybe you’re driving in your car right now. I’ll provide a link there so you can revisit that. But then again, just go to presentationmentor.com, look for the blog and you’ll see our latest podcast episodes there.
Brittney: Yeah, well this has been a great discussion. I’m so glad that I don’t do this things or Scott never would have married me.
(Britney and Scott are both laughing)
Scott: So true, so true! Nah, just kidding. But yeah with all seriousness as we wrap up here, a quick reminder of what we’ve talked about, again, how to master your voice when presenting. To do that, you need to avoid things like vocal fry, uptalk, and again make sure you’re adding more variety to your voice when you give your next presentation.
Alright guys, that’s what we wanted to cover today. Thank you so much for joining us and we’ll catch up with you here in the days ahead!
Brittney: See you soon!
Narrator: Thanks for joining Scott and Brittney on another episode of The Presentation Mentor Podcast.
If you are looking to improve your presentation skills, be sure to check out The Presentation Mentor Online Course at presentationmentor.com.