Struggling to be heard can be a frustrating experience -- and not just for public speakers. Being understood is as important during casual conversation as it is when addressing a large audience. Practicing vocal projection techniques is one way of overcoming this problem, but correct articulation and pronunciation is equally crucial. However, it's not just about captivating an audience; using your voice effectively can help avoid hoarseness and more serious health problems that may affect the volume and clarity of your speech.
Locate and release any tension in your upper body, paying particular attention to your head, neck, shoulders, chest and abdomen. Relax your jaw, unclench your teeth, and position your tongue toward the front of your mouth.
Correct your posture. Stand tall with your head up and facing forward toward the person or audience you are addressing. Open up your chest and shoulders; do not hunch.
Place your voice in your "facial mask," the place where your oral and nasal resonators blend together. Find your facial mask by humming, and noting where in your face you feel the vibration. Focus on the vibration of your words in your facial mask as you speak.
Experiment by speaking higher and lower in your voice range until you find a pitch that comfortably brings out the richest quality or 'resonance' in your voice.
Concentrate on projecting your voice toward the audience or individual you are addressing, rather than talking to the space directly in front of your face.
Practice diaphragmatic breathing: Breathe from low down in your belly, without moving your chest and shoulders, so that only your belly expands every time you inhale. Allow your breath to support and power your voice.
Focus on connecting with the meaning of your words and your audience. Be passionate and committed about what you are communicating.
Tips & Warnings
- Practice the above exercises daily until correct vocal technique becomes habit.
- Do not force your voice or shout to be heard; this puts strain on your vocal cords, and can make your speech less intelligible.
- Use your tongue to clearly enunciate your words when speaking.
- For severe articulation problems, consult a certified speech-language pathologist.
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