Are you a subject matter expert who’s used to standing in front of a group of people, engaging with the audience while relatively comfortably using had gestures, and conservatively moving about the stage to help draw people into what you have to share. This is information that you know well and talk about often in meetings and conferences.
And yet, have you ever had the experience of speaking in front of a room of 100 people and instead of the usual usual lapel microphone, you’re given a hand microphone. This object suddenly becomes a barrier. You hadn’t reheard speaking into a hand-held microphone while also engaging with your audience. You find yourself shaking a bit.
In addition, you are aware that the audience either seems perplexed by what you’re saying, or they have simply tuned out.
Native & Non-native English Speakers Alike: Step Forward and Vary your Pitch in Spoken English
One suggestion for handling any last-minute adjustments is to take command of the stage with your voice. Shift your mental vocal attention not to the microphone but internally to your voice and production of sound in order to engage the audience.
In my last post, I shared three tips for creating a solid vocal presence in spoken English:
- Open your mouth to enunciate the clear vowel sounds clearly.
- Speak from the diaphragm to project a steady volume from the beginning to ends of your sentences.
- Practice humming to connect the sounds.
I’d now like to add two additional tips for engaging an audience.
Step forward. Perhaps exaggerate the first part of a sentence to simply get into a vocal presence mindset where you feel in control despite any barrier up on stage. Shift your attention from the microphone to your production of sound as a means to launch your presentation.
Vary your pitch in spoken English. I’m not talking about speaking like a valley girl and sounding goofy like you’re perhaps imitating how English sounds to you. (Btw, it’s worth asking yourself, How does English sound to me? There are obviously variations in how people speak. Ask yourself this question in different situations with different speakers.)
My suggestion is to concentrate on speaking in a strong steady sound while incorporating a little more pitch change on the last key word of information in your sentences. This helps draw the listener’s attention to the new information, which again is typically at the end of the English sentence.
Need a little help?
In both November and December, I’ll be running a series of three workshops. They are what I call the golden nuggets of communicating clearly in spoken English. In my 8-week course, I go into a lot more detail about the specific speech features of English rhythm. But if you’re limited in time and feel an immediate need to improve your vocal presence, sound, and rhythm in spoken English, I highly recommend the following three workshops:
- Develop a Solid Vocal Presence
- Articulate to be Better Understood
- Alternate to be Better Understood