Vocal variety (or vocal variation) is an absolute necessity to avoid the boring talk. If you’ve ever sat through a talk where the speaker spoke in a monotonous voice, then you know exactly what I’m talking about — it’s an easy way to make a two minute speech last an eternity. The good news is that with a little practice, you can easily use your voice to convey emotions such as excitement, passion and enthusiasm.
Have you ever had a conversation where either you or the other person was really excited about what they were talking about? If you have, you may have noticed that the speaker spoke faster and with a higher pitch. Excitement is a great emotion to convey because it’s contagious. If you’re really excited about something, it will pique the interests of those you talk to as they’ll want to see what the big deal is. I first noticed this in middle school when we’d have visits from some of the local culture organizations — I had no interest in the arts or culture, but the speakers at these assemblies were so excited about their topics (conservation, war reenactments, museums, etc…) that it made me want to learn to more. This is a great outcome for speaker (especially if you’re trying to sell something).
Now, it’s important to understand that just because you’re speaking fast, doesn’t necessarily mean that your audience will get excited — speaking fast is the most common sign of a nervous speaker. You need to start with an even pace and then pick up the pace when you get to part of your speech that you want to emphasize the excitement.
It’s also important to note that there is such a thing as speaking too fast when you’re excited. When you start off slow and then suddenly jump to super-fast and then slam on the brakes and slow it down, it’ll lose the audience. So gradually pick up your pace as you approach the part you want the audience to get excited about.
Some other tricks you can use to help you engage your audience:
- Choose your words carefully to speak with more passion.
- Pause for emphasis or to give your audience some time to ponder a point.
- To get even more impact, step up your gestures and body language to match your pace.
Emotions are a great way to engage your audience so add them as another tool in your speaking toolbox. Keep in mind that the best way to get an audience to feel a particular emotion is for you, the speaker, to sincerely feel that emotion during your speech. It’ll come out more naturally in your voice, through your words and in your body language.