When you’re a public speaker, you need to be able to command the attention of your audience, and one of the first things that a lot of people turn to is to raise their voice. Part of that is due to conditioning, because it’s what we’ve always done when we’ve needed to get someone’s attention.
This might work in classrooms or when we’re dealing with our kids, but it’s rarely a good idea when we’re on stage at a public speaking engagement. It can come across as aggressive, and you run the risk of making people feel as though you’re scolding them.
So what are the alternatives? Well, that’s what we’re going to take a look at in today’s article. Let’s get started.
Repetition is a great way to ensure that people remember the point you’re trying to make. It’s a technique that’s often used by politicians, which is why you’ll hear them use catchy slogans like, “Education, education, education.” This is also why public speakers often summarize their key points at the end of the session, because the more they remind us, the more likely we are to actually remember them.
2. Modulating your pitch
Instead of raising your voice, another option to keep people listening is to modulate your pitch. This can help you to deliver a much more engaging talk and to keep people’s attention. We’ve all seen a public speaker who delivered their talk in a flat monotone, and we all know how boring that can be. Modulating your pitch is basically the opposite of that, allowing you to speak in a more dynamic way that ensures that people continue to give you their full attention.
3. Using a visual aid
Visual aids help to reinforce what you’re talking about and can reduce the need for you to raise your voice, because with a decent visual aid, it doesn’t actually matter so much whether people hear you or not. The goal should be to have visuals that are so self-explanatory that they do your job for you, so if people actually hear what you say, that’s almost like a bonus.
4. Speaking more slowly
One of the main reasons why people raise their voice is so that people can understand what they’re saying, and speaking slowly can help you to achieve the same effect but without the need to raise your voice and deal with the negatives that come from that. Just make sure that, even though you’re speaking more slowly, you’re still enunciating clearly so that people can understand you.
5. Lowering your voice
This might sound counterintuitive, but one alternative to raising your voice is to lower it instead. That’s because if you do that, people will lean in and listen so that they don’t miss anything. However, it can also be something of a risk, because this will only work if people are engaged with your presentation. If they’re not, they won’t care what you’re saying and so they won’t be bothered about making the effort to hear you.
Gesturing can help you to underscore the points that you’re making, but it can also be distracting for an audience if you do it too much. We’ve all seen a public speaker who moves their arms too much, and there’s even a Mitchell and Webb comedy sketch about a TV presenter who just can’t help himself. Gesturing should be used sparingly, but if you only do it here and there to underscore a point you’re trying to make, it can be super effective.
7. Approaching the microphone
Rather than raising your voice, try leaning into the microphone and speaking directly into it. You’ll often find that this has the same result but without making it seem as though you’re shouting at people. It should go without saying that if you want to be a good public speaker, you should spend some time learning how to best use a microphone to ensure that your voice can be heard.
8. Use pauses to your advantage
Another great alternative to raising your voice is to turn to pauses instead. This will provide natural gaps in your presentation and allow the silence to accentuate your voice when you start speaking again. You can also be more selective about where you choose to pause so that your pauses are used for dramatic effect after you drop a bombshell or deliver an important piece of information.
9. Vary your tone
Varying your tone works in the same way as modulating your pitch, allowing you to use contrasts and variation to ensure that people stay engaged with what you’re talking about. In contrast to modulating your pitch, which is all about speaking in a higher or lower voice, varying your tone is all about changing the emotion that you’re using. For example, the tone that we use when we’re angry is very different to the tone that we use when we’re excited.
10. Use simpler language
The simpler the language you use, the easier it is for people to understand the actual meaning behind your words. Bear in mind that some of the people who are listening to you might speak English as a second language, which means that colloquialisms, slang and complicated words might go over their heads. Instead, try to simplify things as much as you can so that it’s easy for anyone to grasp exactly what you’re talking about.
Now that you know our top alternatives to raising your voice as a public speaker, we want to hear from you. What alternatives do you swear by, and which ones haven’t worked as well for you?
As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts, so be sure to let us know in the comments so that we can keep the discussion going. You can also follow us on your favorite social networking sites for more. We’ll see you soon for another article!