Your voice – Do’s and Don’ts for public speaking.
Don’t end each statement as if it’s a question. It makes you sound incompetent. Seriously. Are you asking the audience something or are you telling us something? Because the way you sound makes it seem like you don’t have a clue.
Don’t trail off……you need to actually finish your sentence, and when in doubt, just. stop. talking. –When the nerves start kicking in full gear, you get flustered and start talking (usually quickly) and then you have no idea what you’re saying and you don’t know how to stop, so you just sort of trail off until you’re inaudible. Stop this. When you hear yourself doing this, you need to stop talking.
Don’t speed talk. The audience is listening to you; they’re trying to understand you, so give them an opportunity to actually understand what you’re saying by not racing. The preferable speed is always a conversational speed,–the way you would converse normally. The average speaking rate is 130-170 words per minute. Most people don’t have a problem speaking slowing, instead, stress and nerves force people to speed up. If you’re prone to speed talking, write “SLOW DOWN” on your speech notes, or time yourself so you know where you should be at each page of your speech.
Soft talkers—holy crap! No ONE can HEAR YOU. I have to shout this at you, because soft talkers and mumblers are THE worst. If you’re a low or soft talker, you need to SPEAK UP. Can you hear me?! Because no one can hear you, and when no one can hear you that means people just stop trying to listen and then you’ve got a disengaged audience. I’ve sat at conferences right beside a speaker and not been able to hear her. I’ve been introduced to women and not heard their name because they’re such soft speakers. Honestly, this makes you seem ultra-fragile, like you’re going to break into half if you project your voice. It also seems like you’re completely lacking in confidence. Learn how to project your voice. Speak as if you don’t have a microphone and need everyone in the room to hear you. When I’ve got a class of 75 or 100 students, I project so that the last row in the far back corner can always hear me.
By the way, no one really wants soft-talkers on their team. It may sound harsh, but when you’re working on a team project and you’ve got a tight deadline, you just don’t want to waste your time figuring out what someone is saying and constantly asking “Can you speak up?” “Can you repeat that?” After a while, people just stop asking you, because they don’t care about your opinion anymore. I’ve seen this happen dozens and dozens of times. Speak up or you’ll get left on the sidelines, in school, in business and in life. Learn to speak up.