If you look at the English pronunciation roadmap that I posted in April, you can see that my global English-speech training programs typically concentrate on the specific sounds (vowels and consonants) and rhythm features (stress & intonation) of spoken English. More and more, I’m adding vocal presence to this road map.
What Is Vocal Presence?
I was working with a new client last week. We’ll call him Juan. We started with vocal presence where I asked him, What does vocal presence mean to you?
Juan replied something to the effect of, It’s about your presence. How you handle yourself and respond to someone in a conversation. It’s the impression you make.
I’m going to add to this. Vocal presence is the impression you make in how you project your voice. That is, in the vocal sound that you produce while speaking.
Vocal Presence In Effective Spoken-English Communication
If your voice is generally soft-spoken or its volume becomes lower at the end of every sentence, you might come across as lacking in confidence. Especially if you are here in the U.S.
If your voice is flat, i.e., lacking in pitch variation, you might sound distanced. You might sound less engaged or interested in the topic at hand. (Note the use of the word might here. This interpretation might not be the case for every listener.)
It’s worth asking: What does a trustworthy voice sound like to you? Or How does a knowledgeable, expert-like voice sound?
I want you think of vocal presence in terms of the quality of the sound. This isn’t about a good quality or a bad quality. It’s about the strength, timbre, variation, and tone of vocal sound. That is, your vocal presence.
Vocal Presence & English Pronunciation Clarity
I strongly believe that working with vocal presence is an efficient way to work with English pronunciation. Working directly with your sound production can enhance the 10 spoken-English speech features that I believe deserve daily attention for steadily improving your English pronunciation skills.
A few of the vocal presence techniques that I’m increasingly working into my programs entail:
- Creating a strengthened sound by holding the rib cage strong & speaking from the diaphragm. (Stay tuned for a demo.)
- Humming where you are connecting the sounds between words (this is one level of connecting sounds. There is also the connecting of speech sounds like in linking, but I’m not talking about that here.
- Opening up so that more sound resonates against the soft palate (Stay tuned for a demo.)
Vocal Presence, How’s Yours?
Whether you’re a native or non-native English-speaking professional, how would you describe your vocal presence? During meetings? On the phone? In interviews?
Non-native speakers: English pronunciation aside, how would you describe your vocal presence (or sound production) when you communicate in English?
If you’re not sure, you might want to do the following:
- Grab a voice recorder (on your phone, via an app)
- Choose a topic to talk about. At a loss? Click HERE for a list of topics.
- Record yourself talk (by yourself or with another person) for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Listen and try to describe your vocal presence.
Want To Share?
Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.