My voice went lower in Spain. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not ‘cos it was Spain, specifically, just that I was there for a week to do nothing. Just recharge. The toughest decision I’d have to make was either
- red wine or white?
- shall I do another few lengths of the pool to cool down?
For the record the answers were usually yes to both! 😉
What’s this got to do with presentations?
Simple. People trust you more, and feel you’re more authoritative if you’re not sounding stressed. And one of they key ways stress is communicated is by the pitch/tone of your voice. There’s a reasonable introduction here and another here. (Certain voices are more effective in relaxation therapies, too ) Unfortunately the very fact that we’re making a presentation all too often results in some degree of stress – and we automatically undermine ourselves. What’s more, just knowing that we’re doing it can’t help like it does in many presentation problems, because this one is automatic… that is, it happens before we have chance to respond.
Artificially lower your voice in presentations?
Naaa…. that’s too much like hard work. And what’s more it makes it more likely you’ll make a mistake in your content. Besides, it sounds artificial if you’re not doing it well.
Here are some suggestions.
- Use the myriad of tools I’ve shared on this site to handle your nerves – that is, of course, assuming the reason your voice is higher than ideal because of nerves
- Use the myriad of advice videos on lowering your voice available for free on youtube – there are some really good ones!
- Take some online training – there’s a voice course at http://onlinetraining.presentationgenius.info/
Or read on…
Artificially lowering your voice isn’t the solution, but making sure it doesn’t artificially get raised in your presentation is a good alternative. To be honest I’ve forgotten where I learned this trick (I’m going to guess it was from Stewart Pearce but don’t quote me!)
Think of the English speech idiom of saying uh-huh going up for when we agree with something but down for when we disagree. The lower of those pitches is your natural voice pitch and the one you should use in your presentations: the higher is your stress-pitch and it’s how you speak when you’re anxious. I have a note that’s visible only to me on my first slide saying “uh-huh” so that just before I start to speak I remember to say this in my head, then, before I get get worked up, I move quickly into the first sentence of my presentation, making sure it’s at the lower of those two pitches.