Voice Skills

by Judy Apps

Volume

To speak loudly, just relax! Volume requires good breath and freedom around the shoulders, neck and jaw. But, more than anything, it requires strong intent. If you are ever shocked into yelling loudly in an emergency, you never have the time to think about whether your voice is loud or not: it just is!

When you learn to produce your voice correctly, you will find that you have regular access to increased volume too. It can be useful to think of the sound in terms of waves emanating from your body in all directions, from your back as much as from your mouth. This encourages you to use your whole body, and not to force the sound forwards.

Key point

The goal is to be heard without shouting: to project rather than yell.

Professional speakers often speak of ‘placing the voice’. When you are in a large space, imagine that you are placing your voice in the farthest corners.

Speaking quietly and clearly requires good breathing too. If you wish to make a point quietly, it is a good idea to think of every aspect of your voice as being large – apart from the volume. Then your quiet speaking will be heard and will have impact.

Good speakers lower their voice to draw the audience in, and raise it to make a point.

Projection exercises

Exercise 1

Imagine you suddenly see someone you know across the street, and call out, ‘Hey!’ to get their attention. Feel as if the sound comes right out from your centre.

Repeat the ‘Hey!’ while shaking your shoulders up and down and moving your body around vigorously. Don’t attempt to control the sound. Just let it come out of you.

Then, say a couple of sentences with lots of expression while shaking up and down. Allow the sound to come out just as it wants to. It might surprise you.

Exercise 2

Hold your hand close to your face, and say ‘Hello, pleased to meet you’ to it.

Look at a point half-way across the room, and repeat the phrase, placing your voice at that point with a feeling of an arc of sound reaching the spot.

Look at the farthest corner of the room, and repeat, placing your voice further, in a larger arc.

Look at a distant point out of the window, and repeat, placing your voice far into the distance, in a high arc.

Hear how the voice changes, adding more and more high resonance to travel the distance.