Every Public Speaker (and Singer) Needs to Improve This....

NOTE: the next "Public Speaking Bootcamp for Women" is coming up on Tuesday March 27th, from 5-7pm in downtown Seattle, and you can get your tickets here.

My voice clients range from complete beginners, working on basic skills and gathering confidence, to experienced speakers, looking to polish their prepared speech for a presentation or event. My job is to meet each client right where they are, and work with whatever's going on in their voice at that time. Each has vocal issues that we address with specific exercises and practice. Each has their own unique vocal qualities and strengths that can be brought out. Regardless of ability, every public speaker can benefit from improving one particular skill.

Quite often, when I'm coaching experienced speakers, I can hear that they've found a comfortable voice that makes sense to them. Their diction is crisp, their inflection is musical, and their tone is smooth. Yet something is lacking in their vocal presence, that elusive quality that makes a truly dynamic public speaker. This quality comes from breath support: being fully connected to the diaphragm muscle as it contracts and expands, and feeds breath to the vocal cords. Support is what gives the voice that extra energy and charisma. 

If the vocal cords are not getting enough breath support they will start to get tense, and this tension will accumulate as you continue to talk. The result is that your voice will start to sound tight and strained. Think of the feeling of shouting across the street to someone, and imagine that feeling growing with every word you say. This is no way to deliver a public talk! Learning how to engage the diaphragm while relaxing the vocal cords takes awhile. As we begin to connect more with the physical action(s) of our breath, we can add more energy and power to our voice. Try this: sit up straight in your chair, and loosen any tight belt or waistband. Now close your eyes and point to your navel. Imagine that you are inhaling and exhaling through the navel, and practice this action with your mouth both closed and open. Breathe deeper, and feel your belly relax and expand. If you're doing it correctly, the belly will contract naturally on the exhale. By the way, I recommend meditation for this particular purpose (here's the one I created for my clients). This video will guide you further.