The possibility of losing your voice before a speech or presentation rates right up there as one of the greatest fears facing presenters and facilitators. The voice is a powerful but fragile instrument capable of the finest and most subtle nuances. We should really be looking after it properly. Here are some simple but useful tips in caring for your voice:
- Don’t get involved in cheerleader-type screaming activities – ever.
- Singing gently en route to the venue is recommended. If you don’t know any songs, scales will do, and it’s not essential to sing in tune. This may all be a little awkward if you’re travelling on the underground!
- Never consume dairy within 90 minutes of your presentation commencing. This includes tea/coffee with milk, chocolate, cheeses or yoghurt.
- Avoid eating a big meal immediately before a presentation. If you need to eat, make it a small, nutritious snack. Fruit or raw vegetables are good.
- Ice water constricts the voice – you want yours to be nice and warm when you start speaking. Most presentation venues will bring you iced water unless you specify otherwise. Ask for a cup or glass of hot water. Allow to cool slightly, then sip one third of a glass prior to starting.
- Five slow deep breaths before you start will help to relax your vocal muscles. Big, deep breath in through your nose, slowly out through the mouth. Try this before you appear on stage!
- Make sure that you arrive well in time and are not under pressure before you go on stage. Stress often manifests in the voice.
- Smile. It affects your voice. Really. Try it.
Your tone of voice is a key instrument of persuasion, so speak with warmth and sincerity. It increases your connection with audience members and when properly modulated will help you to sound natural.
Now go out and do some serious persuading. Speaking to an audience should not be a chore, it should be fun!