Your Communication & Performance
TO BE HEARD AND UNDERSTOOD
Vocal Clarity and Projection
tells us that famed orator Demosthenes
practiced speaking with pebbles in his mouth.
If he could speak clearly with pebbles in his
mouth, you can imagine how much clearer he
could speak with no pebbles in his mouth! I do
not advocate “pebble speaking” because it
can be no fun if a pebble is swallowed.
However, there are disciplines you can follow
as a speaker to ensure that the audience
members hear your words clearly.
on vocal quality, let’s focus on two skills
that you, as a speaker, find important: Vocal
clarity and vocal projection.
can be multiple reasons for lack of vocal
clarity. Included among these are: the
speaker is not paying attention to the
formation of each word that is spoken; the
speaker is in a rush to get to the next word
as soon as a word is spoken; the speaker is
unaware how to correctly pronounce a word; the
speaker has physical problems in forming
are principles that will help you immediately
speak with more clarity:
every word as if it is a living being.
Show respect to your words. Pronounce and
enunciate each word completely before
moving on to the next word.
that it takes a fraction of time from the
time you complete a sentence for the
audience members to grasp what you said.
When you take the time to deliver the
sentence completely and don’t rush off
to the next sentence, audience members
have time to stay with your expressed
thoughts. If you do not allow the
listeners the time they need to comprehend
what you are saying, sentence-by-
sentence, it will frustrate them, even
if you pronounce each word perfectly.
This principle in practice means that you
strive to help the audience understand
your message and not simply impress them
with how fast you can speak.
words that you can easily pronounce. Keep
Research how to pronounce any new words
you feel you should use in your speech.
you have physical problems articulating
words, visit a speech pathologist for an
evaluation of your condition and treatment
options. For example, people with
stuttering problems can learn ways that
they can control the stutter.
you feel that you need the guidance of an
expert to overcome problems of vocal
clarity, contact a Speech
A client of mine recently found that his
“lisping” problem was greatly reduced
after he did a few recommended vocal
is an exercise I developed to increase vocal
clarity. I found it very helpful when I was
competing in speech contests, but it can be
very effective for any kind of speaking.
DILIP’S SPEED SPEAKING EXERCISE TO INCREASE
exercise assumes that you have written out the
text of your speech. You need a digital voice
recorder or tape recorder or any device that
will record your voice and play it back.
your speech down into several passages.
You will focus on one passage at a time.
the first passage at your regular speed
and record it. This will give you a
read that same passage at a faster rate.
As you are reading it, force your mouth to
form each word properly so that each word
can be distinctly heard. Record it. I
suggest that you do not stand in front of
a mirror because when you see your mouth
and face contort to enunciate the words
correctly, you might burst out laughing
and interrupt your exercise.
back the two recordings. Listen carefully
to the way you articulated the words.
Would an audience member have comprehended
what you were saying? If you feel that you
are not enunciating certain words clearly
enough, repeat steps 2 and 3.
you have “passed” step 3, read the
same passage at a very much faster rate.
Record it. Listen to that recording. If
the words are not clear, repeat it until
you’ve got it right.
read that passage at your normal speaking
rate. Record it. Listen to it.
back the recording you made in step #2 and
compare the clarity of your words in step
#2 and step #6. You should see that in
step #6, your words are much clearer and
crisper. You will not sound as if you are
rushing through your speech, but will
appear to have sufficient time to
articulate every word comfortably.
Now move on to another passage of your speech
and repeat steps #2-7.
of this newsletter, we discussed the
importance of proper breathing. That is
the most important feature in voice
projection. Think of Aladdin’s magic carpet.
The magic carpet for a speaker is the
bed of air that transports your voice and
words. If you do not breathe properly, your
words will fall down before they reach their
intended destination – the listener’s
the magic carpet concept, another useful
concept in regards to voice projection is that
of throwing your voice. Recall a time
when you threw a baseball or cricket ball. You
will find that you naturally looked at the
person or location you wanted the ball to
arrive at. Likewise, look at the eyes of
different audience members, one at a time.
Look at the people in the back and throw your
voice. When you look at the people in the
front of the auditorium, don’t forget that
you have to say the words loudly enough so
that people in the back of the auditorium can
is one more necessity for proper projection: Vocalize
the endings to your words and sentences.
Ideally, there should be a very slight pause
after you finish a sentence. Let the words
float out on the magic carper of your breath
and reach the ears of your listeners. With the
techniques of proper breathing, the magic
carpet, throwing your voice, and vocalized
endings, you will master vocal projection.
month we will look at further techniques to
improve speech delivery.
you found this newsletter helpful and would
like more in-depth information directly from
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