Voice-over artists and radio people learn to add or shave split seconds off their delivery on command. You can do it too by following these tips:
Tape record your voice
The average rate of speech is 150 words per minute. To find out how you compare, count off 150 words of text in a book or magazine. Read the passage into a tape recorder at your normal rate of speech. Play it back and time it. How close to a minute were you?
To speed up, visualize the blank space between the words shrinking. To slow down, expand the space between the words. You'll find a handy 150 word speech evaluation script to practice with on page 18 of my book Speak to Influence: How to Unlock the Hidden Power of Your Voice
Stand up while on the phone or making important points in a meeting
Just being on your feet can increase your vocal energy by 50%. If you must remain seated, sit up straight and breathe deeply. This will not only increase the energy in your voice, it will also increase the chances that people will take what you are saying seriously.
Aim for a target
To project your voice, pick a point on the opposite end of the room or even out the window and across the street. As you speak, visualize that your voice is being carried up and out of your body to hit the target.
There does seem to be a link between body language and the energy level in your speaking voice. The more animated your face and body, the more energy in your voice.
During business meetings, I'm not saying you should gesture like a flight attendant demonstrating safety equipment but you should feel free to speak with your hands.
When you're on the phone and you can't be seen, your voice needs to do what your body language cannot. Many people don't realize is that you should still use expressive body language, even if people can't see you. This "telephone" body language should be more exaggerated than if you were speaking face to face. Wear a headset for greater mobility and so that you can really use your hands to express yourself.
If you are tired, fake it! Stand while speaking or use a wireless headset so you can walk while you talk. Get your blood moving. And then make that important call.
From The VoiceCoach Newsletter by Susan Berkley. Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2008 All Rights reserved.
Susan Berkley is the author of Speak To Influence:How To Unlock The Hidden Power of Your Voice. available from your favorite bookseller. For a free subscription to The Voice Coach Newsletter visit www.speaktoinfluence.com.