Knowing how to use volume skillfully can make a huge contribution to effective public speaking.
Speakers who use just one level of volume, usually at low level, can almost guarantee having an audience who are either sleeping or taking mental excursions.
Use the five key guidelines below and really harness the power of volume as you develop an effective public speaking style:
- Sufficient Volume
Many speakers could increase their volume considerably. The reason they do not is often because they believe their volume level is greater than it really is. The way our voice sounds in our own heads is different to the way it sounds from the audience perspective.
So learn to speak louder than you feel is really necessary. Remember, when making a presentation you are not having a quiet chat with a friend in the corner of a favorite café. You are before an audience and you need to project your voice.
If you are concerned you may be overdoing it, then simply use the audience as your guide as to whether you are using sufficient volume.
Look closely at those sitting at the back and watch their facial expressions and reactions. Are they evidently straining to hear? Increase the volume.
There is a careful balance here. You do not want to speak so loud you make it uncomfortable for those at front but at the same time you do need to speak loud enough for all to hear comfortably.
This can even apply when there is microphone equipment as many times the equipment is not adjusted to the best level and you the speaker will have to compensate.
- Mouth And Clarity
Open the mouth wide enough for your words to come out clearly. Speaking rapidly, clipping the ends of words, slurring words together, are to be avoided at all costs! If you face any of these problems, work hard to overcome them.
Make a recording of your speech and play it back to get a good idea as to how your voice is coming over.
Then practice, practice, practice. Speak slowly and clearly, paying particular attention to sounding word endings.
At first it will sound unnatural and exaggerated. With practice the unnaturalness will disappear and your speech will be much more distinct and clearly understood.
- Vary Your Volume
Increase or decrease your volume according to the subject matter of your material or your purpose in that section of the presentation.
If you want the audience to take action then you need to use stronger volume. If you are relating anecdotes or material requiring sympathy or understanding, use a softer tone.
Learning to vary your volume level throughout your presentation according to the subject matter will greatly increase audience interest and attention.
- Adjusting Volume
Be ready to adjust your volume or even stop speaking when necessary.
If there is a temporary noise, perhaps a noisy passing vehicle, be sensitive to the circumstances and increase your volume to cover the distraction. If the noise is longer than a few seconds, perhaps an airplane passing overhead, pause until the interruption has passed, then resume what you were saying.
This tells the audience that what you are saying is important, not a word is to be missed.
- When To Increase Volume
Use increased volume for the first sentence in your introduction. This is a key element in effective public speaking. The opening sentence has to grab the attention of the audience, get them engaged. Starting off with your normal speaking voice will fail to do that.
A powerfully stated first sentence establishes your credibility so the audience is far more likely to take you seriously.
Example: Compare the feeling and impression you get with hand shakes. How is your impression affected by a limp handshake and by a firm handshake? Likewise, a strong powerful voice conveys you are confident and in control.
Don’t make the audience feel sorry for you by starting in a soft tone that borders on an apology for being there.
Learning how to use volume for effect is a very powerful speaking tool. Delivering your presentation with sufficient volume, varying it according to the material and circumstances, will do much to leave a good impression with the audience and enhance your reputation in effective public speaking.