One of the things I hear a lot in my work and when I listen to people presenting in general is that nerves can manifest vocally as speaking with a monotonous tone. Would we translate it to painting, it would be only using one or 2 colors instead of a whole palette.
Since “colorful” is not a word that is frequently associated with professional presentations, the delivery usually consists of stating facts, giving arguments and showing as little of our personality as possible, in order to be seen as competent and taken seriously.
The problem is that the more monotonous your voice, the more difficult it is to keep your audience’s attention. And finally we actually might reach the opposite effect. And when your audience checks out mentally or emotionally, you get no energy from them. When you don’t get energy from them, presenting becomes really hard work, which leaves you frustrated and your audience as well.
Here are some ways you can improve:
1. Become conscious of the benefits of your monotonous voice. I know that might be counterintuitive, but this is how I usually start when I want to change a habit. It’s being very clear on what benefits I derive from a seemingly “bad” habit. And yes, there are benefits to it. For example the fact that your audience will check out and won’t listen to you properly can decrease the chance of being asked questions you might not know the answer to, being criticized or contradicted. So if these are benefits you don’t want to let go of, making your voice more melodious might not be a real advantage for you.
So take a pen and paper or your phone and answer the question:
What is beneficial about my voice being monotonous?
2. Go to the extreme as an experiment. Record yourself using the voice memo app on your phone giving an account of your day.
First: record yourself talking about what you have achieved today already (efficiency tip: make it short and sweet - a 30 second recording might be enough for this exercise). Second: record yourself in the most boring voice you can think of, intentionally only use one note for every word. Third: go to the other extreme and record yourself telling the same things using a very animated sing-songy voice. Fourth: record yourself again without any extremes, just “normally” and see whether something has changed. Compare it to your first recording and see whether the sound of your voice has changed.
3. Try incorporating more notes the next time you speak. After having done this exercise, do you feel more in control of the different tones your voice can have? Does it still sound and feel natural to you? If yes, then bingo! If no, do this exercise again.
In general we don’t need 50 more different tones, if you could just incorporate 2-3 it would most likely make your listeners more interested in what you have to say.
I hope these tips were useful.
And if you have read this post and tried out one or some of my tips, feel free to send me an email and tell me about it.