Effective Speaking: What’s Your Point?

When you are putting together a presentation, it is absolutely critical that you have a “point.” That is, you must make certain that you and the audience know why you are speaking, why they are listening, and what they can expect to take away.
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Effective Speaking: Volume Control

If there’s one simple thing that anyone – anyone – could do right away to be a more effective speaker, it would be to simply learn to able increase and decrease the volume of their voice on command.

In theater, this is called vocal projection, because your goal is to “project” your voice all the way to the back of the venue so that everyone can hear you clearly.

It doesn’t matter how great a speaker you are; if people can not hear you, they will not get anything out of your presentation. Even if they can kind of hear you, if they have to focus and struggle they’ll get frustrated and stop paying attention.

As an improv comedian, I learned this lesson early on. We would perform in small coffeehouses and large theaters, indoors and outdoors, in for quiet audience and for raucous groups. Improv doesn’t lend itself well to proper staging, acoustics, or mics, so we learned how to make sure everyone could hear us, all on our own.

Even if you never plan on being a performer or think you will only speak from time to time, there are a few great reasons to still practice increasing your volume:

It Gives You Authority

People who can be louder (without shouting) sound more confident, powerful, and in charge. These are all great qualities to have when you are speaking.

Microphones Can Fail

You may be assuming that you will always have a mic at your disposal. Bad assumption. Sometimes the planner assumes you won’t need one. Sometimes they have one and it won’t work. I once spoke at an outdoor event where the company brought a portable mic/speaker system. It didn’t work well and kept cutting in and out. The speaker before me wasn’t loud enough to go without, so he had to struggle with the bad system. I just bellowed without it. One of the most frequent comments I received afterward was “thank you for being so clear and easy to hear.”

Technology is great, but don’t rely 100% on it.

Volume Control Can Add Power

If you can increase and decrease the volume of your voice, you can add drama and effect to your stories and points. Increase your volume to make a powerful point. Decrease it while telling a moving story.

When you have control, your voice becomes one more tool in your tool box.

Working on your volume may not sound like an exciting way to develop as a speaker, but trust me: give it a try, and you’ll see people respond to your presentations more than you ever have before.