Toastmaster Speech Manual Number
To explore the use of voice volume, pitch, rate and quality as assets
to your speaking
ii. To achieve a pleasing
natural voice quality when speaking
iii. TIME: Five to seven minutes
kind of voice do you have? Is it resonant, musical, and easy to listen to? Or is
it harsh, monotonous, or tiresome? You can make it just about what you want if
you're willing to work at it.
Every time you present a talk,
you involve your mind, body, and voice in communicating the message to your
listeners. We've looked at sincerity, organization, and body language as parts
of effective communication. Now we will concentrate on the primary link between
you and your audience: your voice. The skills you develop in this project will
be among your most important tools for favorably impressing people, whether
you're speaking to one person or to a thousand.
You have the potential for an
effective speaking voice. The first step in building a better speaking voice is
awareness. You should work to develop a voice that is pleasant to the ear and
display enough variety of sound to be an expressive part of your speaking.
Using Your Voice
Psychologist Albert Mehrabian states that we are five times as
likely to be influenced by voice than by spoken words as we listen
to a speaker. Thus, we are more influenced by how a speaker talks than by what a
speaker says. A good speaking voice
is loud enough to be heard, clear enough to be interesting, and
pleasing enough to be enjoyable.
A good speaking voice should be balanced
between extremes of volume, pitch, and rate, while having a pleasing sound quality.
Let's examine each of these individually:
Some people habitually speak loudly. Perhaps their parents talked this
way, or they may have an assertive nature. Such
people should make a special effort to speak more quietly. At the
other extreme are people who can
barely be heard. They need to
concentrate on projecting their voices. In any case, you should vary
your voice volume to add emphasis or dramatic impact to your speeches.
Good speakers vary the pitch of their voices to convey emotion and
conviction. Avoid high pitches because they suggest
immaturity and excitability. The best approach is to be conversational
in your speaking.
The most effective speaking rate falls into the range of 125-160 words
a minute. You can easily keep within this range by
speaking rapidly enough to avoid a boring drone, yet slowly enough to
be clearly understood. Vary your speaking rate during
your talk to reflect mood changes and to emphasize points of the
The most important recommendation for voice quality is to relax your
throat while you speak. Try to convey friendliness, confidence, and a
desire to communicate. Relax, eliminating any tension from your voice.
A pleasing tonal quality will usually follow.
A Good Speaking Voice
By applying the above principles to your speech you'll find that
a good speaking voice generally has the following
The tone is pleasant, conveying a sense of friendliness.
2. It is natural, reflecting the
true personality and sincerity of the speaker.
3. It has vitality, giving the
impression of force and strength, even when it isn't especially loud.
4. It portrays various shades of
meaning, never sounding monotonous and emotionless.
5. It is easy heard, thanks to
proper volume and clear articulation.
You can train your
own voice to excel in all these qualities if you listen closely to the way you
speak and concentrate on improvement. To learn more about how to build your
vocal skills, read the manual Your speaking Voice, which you received in your
New Member Kit. It also contains exercises for developing your voice control.
Try Your Voice
Begin by experimenting with a few short passages to discover the
meanings you can project using different vocal values. Read these
passages aloud and create others using a tone of voice appropriate to each
appreciate the kindness you have shown me, and I hope to return the favor when I
can." (Simple, honest statement, or
"Kindness! Do you call that kindness?
I wouldn't treat a stray dog the way you've treated me!" (Resentment,
"If we all show a little kindness, a
little concern for other's need as well as our own, we can help make the world
what it should be." (Deep feeling of
earnestness and conviction.)
how your tone and effect vary with the different thoughts you express. See how
easy it is to change the meaning by changing your emphasis.
As another experiment, call a friend on the
telephone and talk foe several minutes on some topic of mutual interest. Vary your
tone of voice as well as your rate, pitch, and volume. Use pauses to emphasize a
point or arouse interest in what you will say next. At the same time, keep
your vocal experimentation within the context of a normal conversation.
Your Speech Subject
For this speech, choose a subject that lends itself easily to
voice variety. Something of a narrative or descriptive nature would be
good, as would be a topic requiring a display of emotion. Another idea is to
select a subject that enables you to quote or imitate different tones of voice
or manners of speaking. Use your imagination in preparing your talk and
remember to apply the principles you have learned in the first four projects.
Rehearsing Your Talk
You will need to rehearse until you've mastered the voices
you'll be using in the speech. Find a place where you can be alone, so you
can speak without inhibitions or interruptions. Bring your voice out of the
common, monotonous routine by varying the pitch,
volume, and quality. Work especially on varying the delivery rate. Speak clearly
and project you voice. Although you will be evaluated primarily on voice
variety, don't neglect gestures and other body language. All work together
to bring sight and sound into harmony as you communicate.
A valuable aid in rehearsing your vocal
variety is a tape recorder. Record your voice and practice until the vocal
variety satisfies you. Then pay attention to your organization and
sincerity as well as voice. The sound of your recorded voice may
surprise you at first, but it's closer to what your audience
hears than the voice you're used to hearing directly as you speak.