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Work on having an expressive voice

We’ve all heard them. The speaker who was so boring to listen to that you had to prop your eyes open with toothpicks. Their voice so uninteresting that you found yourself distracted by thoughts of whether you had turned the light off in the bathroom before you left home. It wasn’t that the content was boring. It was just how it was being delivered.

The key to having a voice that is interesting to listen to is expression. It’s the difference between lulling your audience to sleep or keeping them on the edge of their seats. Having an expressive voice involves energy, emotion and inflection.

Energy: It Keeps an Audience Alive

In my years of working with audiences I have noticed that they feed off my energy. If I’m feeling tired my voice becomes dull and tired and so does my audience. But if my voice is infused with energy, it flows through the room and into the listeners. It’s as if they’re all sipping on a good cup of coffee, without the caffeine! This energy also helps with the projection of your voice, making it strong and interesting to listen to.

Emotion: Don’t Keep it Bottled Up

An expressive voice is one that is able to tap into some kind of emotion. An actor needs to convey the emotion of his dialogue, whether it’s one tinged with sadness, disbelief, outrage or humor. In the same way you need to communicate to the audience that you care about your topic. This happens through the quality of your voice. Is there a heartbeat behind those words? Showing emotion causes the audience to believe in and care about what you are sharing. However, too much emotion makes people uncomfortable. You will need to find a balance.

Inflection: To Pause or Not to Pause

The dictionary definition of inflection is “the grammatical variation of words or the modulation of the voice”. Consider, for a moment, a roller coaster ride. Can you imagine one that only stayed level the whole way? How boring would that be? What makes a roller coaster worth the ride is the variation of heart-stopping heights, twists and turns, as well as the level ground it travels on. Think of your voice in this way. Sometimes you need to pause for effect; get louder for emphasis; or quieter to make a point.

Exercise: Go on and give it a try!

Say the line below with the following emotions: anger, sadness, excitement, pleading, nervousness. Remember to vary how you say it by raising or softening your voice, pausing between words and stressing a certain word. Change it up with each emotion.

“Is all of that really necessary?”

Now to sound really bored you would say it again but as flat and dull as possible without any inflection or emotion.

“Is all of this really necessary?”

Now, never do that again!

So make the most of your voice and remember that how you say something is as important as what you say.