Let’s be honest, some people are nicer to listen to than others. They have a smooth melodious tone of voice that makes them sound like natural orators. But where does that leave the rest of us when we have to stand up and make ourselves heard?
When I was trying to break into broadcasting, I was told that I didn’t have the “pipes” for the job. I didn’t have a booming baritone voice that would command respect. I made up for it by being clever and tenacious. I knew that my reporting and writing skills would have to compensate for not having a “voice of God” delivery.
At the same time, however, I did everything I could to improve my performance. I spent many hours practicing my scripts in a lower tone – sort of like the scary monster voice you’d use to read to children. My vocal chords benefitted from the exercise and I gradually developed a more pleasant tone.
Professional singers practice their scales and anyone who does a lot of public speaking should do the same thing. Every voice is capable of a wide tonal range and the more we take advantage of that range, the more engaging we become as presenters.
Another reason to do some vocal exercises is to overcome a credibility killer common in many younger speakers, particularly women. I’m talking about “up speak” where the voice goes up at the end of a sentence, making it sound like a question. Many people are not even aware that they do it.
It’s important, however, to differentiate between practice and performance. Work on your tone when you’re preparing but when it comes time to present, express yourself naturally. Let your improved natural self come out. If you express yourself with passion and commitment the tone of your voice will reflect that.