Are you a professional who has a fear of public speaking? The Chapman University survey on American fears conducted in 2020 and 2021 gave us a glimpse of what average Americans are scared of. In a random sample of over a thousand adults across the US, the survey questioned respondents on how they felt about 95 different topics, including natural disasters, the environment, the government, and COVID-19. Interestingly, public speaking came in at #54, with 29% of respondents considering it as something they’re afraid of.
While public speaking may not seem a big deal as the pandemic and global security, the survey does affirm the fact that many people all over the world are overwhelmed with the idea of speaking in public — especially with the prospect of sounding awkward or stumbling over words. This is why speaking voice training and coaching are essential to gain confidence in public speaking and learning business communication skills. In this article, we’ll talk about what voice coaching is, and offer some tips on how to improve professional communication skills.
What is Voice Coaching for Speaking?
Public speaking is a soft skill that requires professionals to engage enthusiastically with an audience, so it’s definitely not that easy to master. As The Balance Careers’ article on important public speaking skills highlights, professional-level roles face a fair amount of public speaking tasks. In the world of business, you’ll need to make presentations, deliver speeches, train staff, present findings, pitch proposals, and lead meetings with an ever-changing audience.
This is where voice coaching comes in, offering a way for professionals to develop or enhance communication skills and boost confidence in public speaking. Contrary to popular belief, voice coaching isn’t limited to people who are trying to improve their singing voice. Rather, voice training for public speaking involves teaching professionals how to use their voice, speech, and body to communicate effectively. These vocal lessons work to improve your speaking voice and stage presence, so you can speak well in front of any audience.
Voice coaching can help you improve your communication in the workplace as well. This will help you use concise language, as well as employ different communication styles and techniques to build rapport with others. With the help of a vocal coach, you can improve communication and strengthen your speaking voice. They can work with you to find the best tools and techniques that improve conversation skills.
5 Tips and Techniques to Improve Your Communication Skills
Of course, voice and speech training may not necessarily be accessible to many of us, and we might not feel comfortable working with an expert just yet. However, there are methods to improve your communication skills from home at your own pace and time. Here are five tips to be a stronger communicator:
1. Do voice, breathing, and posture exercises
Think of a speech as a performance. The human voice is like a muscle, and you need to warm it up with voice exercises for speaking to prepare it. Moreover, exercising your vocal cords allows you to project and fluctuate your voice. You should also condition your body into the proper posture for breathing. When you speak, you need to engage your diaphragm and take in a good breath — so you don’t gulp in the air or fade out towards the end of your phrase. Plus, good posture and breathing let you feel relaxed and confident enough to exude a commanding presence. The more warm-ups you do, the better you’ll feel when it’s time to deliver your speech.
2. Work through minor speech impediments
A good public speaker must be able to go through their content clearly and audibly. Proper diction is essential, so your audience will understand every word you say and not miss the message. As Maryville University’s primer on speech impediments points out, however, around 70 million people worldwide experience stuttering difficulties. They may struggle with unintelligible speech, omitted sounds, added sounds, substituted sounds, or an inappropriate pitch. Fortunately, speech limitations can be corrected with voice training for public speaking. Adjustments to your tongue, mouth, jaw, breathing and pacing will help you enunciate clearly. For more severe speech disorders, professionals in the speech therapy field should be consulted to treat disorders and improve communication skills.
3. Practice, practice, and practice
To develop communication skills and build confidence in speaking, one must practice constantly — especially if you’re more of an introvert. Practice can help you develop your voice and grow comfortable when speaking to a crowd. Regular rehearsals will enable you to find your optimum sound and get into a comfort zone. You would also slowly figure out how to add expressions and gestures to your piece, which will enrich the way you speak. One way to practice is to record yourself on audio, not video, to better focus on the vocals. This way, you can assess areas for improvement and work on them in your next practice session.
4. Use tools to improve communication skills
People who struggle with speaking are always concerned that they’re being judged by coaches and therapists. Penn State research on speech and smart speakers found that machines are helpful in providing training to individuals with speaking anxiety. There are plenty of tools to improve professional communication skills with.
Our easy-to-use device for professionals called Forbrain works as a brain booster, capitalizing on the natural process of the auditory feedback loop. Wearing Forbrain during normal speaking activities will energize your voice so you sound more convincing. Using the device before an important speech will help you tap into your flow, enunciation, and confidence.
5. Find connection and purpose
Getting the words across is one thing, but finding the right feeling is another. To hold an audience’s attention, you need to pour the right emotions into your speech. True conviction, purpose, and passion are key to being effective in communication. As a professional, it also helps to connect with your audience through tactics like establishing good eye contact. Remember, the secret to being a better speaker is your mindset. You have to believe that your voice deserves to be heard and that your audience can find value in what you say.
Guest written by Rowena Jesse for Forbrain.