While overcoming stage fright is probably the first hurdle anyone starting out in public speaking wants to achieve, there are many other ways that you can improve your public speaking skills. These range from improving the quality of your voice to the way you present yourself to an audience without any fear, and even the way you dress.Rightly or wrongly, many people associate voice quality with general health conditions and personality traits. A strong, resonant voice tone seems to indicate a healthy body and a well adjusted personality, whilst a weak, ineffective, or squeaky voice seems to show a lack of physical vigor and suggest general inadequacies.
If you’ve ever had to make a public speech while you were feeling sick or had a cold, and couldn’t stop coughing or sneezing, you will appreciate this idea even more.Happily, it is reasonably easy to train our voices, at very least by understanding how to breathe correctly when we speak. We all breathe constantly, day and night, but when we talk, we interrupt that breathing process, and sometimes end up gulping for breath.
The way to overcome public speaking anxiety is to make sure there is always enough air in our lungs to be able to speak. A good tip is to take a deep breath at the beginning of each new idea. Don’t gulp, but rather take a little time and allow your whole chest cavity to fill with air. If you practice this, it will become completely natural when you speak and will be an effective public speaker.
Standing up straight also helps, as does learning how to relax.Try standing and breathing incorrectly to see how different your voice sounds. If you stand with your chest out, shoulders back, chin in and push your weight forward on your toes, only the upper part of your lungs will fill with air. Chances are that your voice will sound harsh and you won’t be able to project it. This is because your chest and throat are stiff and strained. Now poke your chin out, push your shoulders forward so that your back is rounded, and put your weight on your heels. Only the lower part of your chest will fill with air and your voice will be breathy and also not project.
Project Your Voice
To be able to control your breathing fully, and project your voice – and therefore make yourself heard – stand with your shoulders square, your back straight, and relax your chin. You should feel well balanced and be able to fill your entire chest with air, so that your diaphragm flattens slightly. When you breathe with your upper chest only, your diaphragm scarcely moves, and when you breathe with your lower chest, it is pushed down too much.Before you make any sort of speech, breathe deeply and try to relax not just your body, but your mind and spirit as well.
When it comes to delivering the speech, it is not only what you say that is important, but also how you say it. Here are some more factors to practice and remember:
This is the correct way in which words are pronounced (or spoken) in a particular language. If you pronounce words incorrectly this might reduce your credibility.
This relates to the way words are pronounced as well as to the choice and use of words and phrases chosen to express the meaning of words. Good diction increases credibility and is the sign of an intelligent public speaker.
This relates to how high or low our voices are. When we speak, we need to change the pitch from time to time to avoid sounding monotonous and therefore boring.
This is the rate at which we speak, and like pitch, we can use it to enliven speeches and make them more interesting. For ordinary conversation we normally use a medium pace. You may quicken the pace during a speech to help show strong emotion. But don’t speak quickly for too long or your words may become garbled. Slowing down the pace of a speech generally adds dignity and/or adds emphasis to words or phrases.