VOCAL Variety

For Pro Speech customers

See the below legend for reference to the notes added to your speech.

Exclamation point - indicates the sentence is loud (I really can't wait to go!)

Capital letters - indicates the volume of the word is accentuated (I really can't WAIT to go)

Lower case - indicates a normal voice (I really can't wait to go)

Dashes between words - indicates pauses between words (I - really - can't - wait to go). Two dashes indicate an elongated pause.

Italics - indicates an emphasis on the underlined word (I really can't wait to go)

Reasons to Use Vocal Variety

 

We are more influenced by the way the speaker talks rather than what he or she says. Using vocal variety helps to achieve two key things - capturing your audience's attention and conveying meaning. A great speaking voice is audible enough to be heard; clear to be implicit, expressive enough to be appealing and enjoyable. A great speaking voice use tone, pitch, speed and volume to get their audience's attention, increase engagement and help the audience understand the meaning behind your phrases.

Types of Vocal Variety

 

Your tone and your vocal variety techniques must vary according to the thoughts that you want to express. Capturing your audience's attention and conveying the true meaning of speech and it's words must be thought-out and delivered correctly. If you don’t use these techniques correctly, then the meaning of the line may be changed entirely. So, plan, rehearse and use these correctly to get the effect you are looking for.

Tone

To enhance engagement, great speakers use a conversational tone generally throughout the entire speech, just as you have when you speak with friends, family and colleagues. Do your best to avoid a monotonous tone, or you will lose the attention of your audience. Relax your mind and throat while speaking. Be confident, friendly and show that you have a desire to speak. Once you achieve this, a pleasing tone will automatically follow.

Pausing

Pausing is an effective technique to build suspense and keep your audience focused on your speech. People need time to process what you have said before moving on. Using moments of silence allow for this, and it also shows the audience that you are relaxed and confident, giving your speech more authority. There are plenty of ways to include pauses in a quite meaningful way. Use long pauses at the end of transitions or paragraphs and short pauses following each sentence in your speech. Use a short pause before the climax of a joke or story, before and after very important points, or any point that will have your audience fixed on what you are about to say next. Truly confident speakers learn to live with silence and not rush to "fill the gaps" with words.

Speed

Talking too fast when you're nervous or uncomfortable is common, and it tells everyone you’re nervous and lack self-control. Speaking at a comfortable rate (such as rate when you talk with friends and family) allows you more time to think about what you want to say, shows confidence and helps your audience to feel more relaxed and engaged. An effective speaking rate sits between 100 and 160 words per minute throughout your entire speech, depending on your use of stories, gestures and pausing. Varying the speed of your voice throughout your speech is an effective way to change the drama and mood of various sections. Speed up your words to emphasise drama in action-packed or exciting stories. Slow down through sad points to reflect the proper mood, and slow down through very key points for emphasis.

 

Pitch

An easy approach to targetting different pitch point is playing with diverse emotional content. A sad voice has a different deeper pitch from your general voice, which is further different from an higher-pitched voice for an exciting story. Great speakers have a habit of varying the pitch of their voices in order to convey their emotions in the best possible way. Maintain a consistent, pleasing pitch generally throughout your speech, and use relevant changes in pitch to enhance specific stories.

 

Volume

Vary your volume to emphasise key points or stories. Joy or anger matches a loud voice. On the other hand, sadness or fear aligns better with a quiet voice. If you have a tendency to talk very quietly or loudly, make special note to listen to a recording of yourself during rehearsal. By doing so, you can practice maintaining a consistent volume that is pleasant to your audience and only vary your volume for the points your wish to emphasise.

Filler words

"Umm", "aah", "like". We use "filler" words to fill the gap between when we start thinking about what to say and when we actually say it. When filler words are used frequently in speech, it suggests the speaker is uncertain about what is being said and it affects the flow of your speech. Picture someone using "umm" and "like" every fourth word - not an easy speech to listen to!

This is habit. It may not be something you can fix overnight, but by simply being aware of it and trying to catch yourself when it happens, you will start the process of removing them from your vocabulary and using pausing instead. And, the more you rehearse your speech and the more confident you are in it, the less likely you are to use filler words. 

Try Speaking Out

If you are making your first attempt to speak publicly or if you need some practice, experiment with following short phrases and explore how you can apply similar types of vocal variety to the phrases in your speech. Your vocal variety techniques will convey meaning to your audience and capture their attention. So, read the passage loudly and clearly and create a tone that is appropriate for each line.

"And then we raced down the hill, came close to hitting a tree, zoomed past a pile of rocks and ended up in the lake!" (loud, fast, higher pitch, excitement)

​"For all the kindness you have shown me, I want to let you know that I appreciate it and I hope to return the favour when I can." (an authentic and honest tone or perhaps sarcasm)

"If we remain positive, solution-focused, and show empathy and gratitude towards our fellow colleagues, we can make this company what it should be." (earnest and confident, pausing at commas, slow)

"A thousand dollars! How can this be worth a thousand dollars? I won't be coming back here again!" (loud, resentment, anger)

"John was a great man in life, a dear friend, and we will all miss him dearly." (sadness, pausing at commas, slow, deeper pitch, quiet)

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