There are no set rules what makes a good speaker but there are some things you can do to be more entertaining and a little more polished as to be professional or at the least not annoying.
“The voice is not only indicative of a man’s character, but it is the expression of his spirit,
Other sounds can be louder than the voice, But no sound can be more living.”
Diane has both a bachelors and masters degree in voice performance. She has 20 plus year experience working as a professional in opera & musical theatre. During that time she has taught voice and speech both privately and for conservatories through out Canada, England & Italy.
Diane King – Discover your Voice
Opera, Musical Theatre, Oratorio
Weddings, Chamber Music
International Training and Experience
All Levels & Styles
Strength & Confidence Training
Voice Over Artist
If you would like to hire Diane for private lesson or group training for your club then give her a call at 604-733-9604 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Good vocal techniques include:
Correct posture, abdominal breathing (inhalation), a voice connected to the body (exhalation), a relaxed throat and jaw, good articulation and diction.
The elements of sound include: range, tone, pitch, color, volume, strength, intensity, inflection and variety.
These techniques combined result in an ‘honest sound’ -a quality of sound that is authentic, believable, interesting, compelling and charismatic.
Other elements that contribute to a good speaking voice are range, tonal variety rhythm, intensity, emotional expression.
Correct breathing and sound must be combined with proper use of the ‘articulators’ jaw, lips, teeth, and tongue which are the elements of ‘good diction’.
2. Do you like your speaking voice?
What is your vocal personality? Is it a true reflection of you?
Sound and speech patterns are genetic, social, cultural and gender related.
The speaking voice also becomes a reflection of personality -confidence vs. timidity.
We must give ourselves ‘permission’ to have a voice (this is literal and psychological)
3. Are Good voices ‘born’ or are they ‘made’?
Babies are the most efficient noisemakers. We are all born breathing correctly and producing good, healthy sound. We must learn to return to what our bodies know how to do naturally we must return again to the ‘kid in the playground. We may have lost touch with our ‘true’ speaking voice and can at any age do the work to rediscover a more authentic sound
4. Is it possible to change the speaking voice?
The speaking voice is an ‘instrument’ and can be learned to be played like any other. Changing or improving the speaking voices comes from:
1. understanding the basic fundamentals of how the voice works.
2. diligently practicing proper vocal techniques.
3. mastering and memorizing these techniques until new vocal habits are formed.
Feel like a puppet with a string coming from the top of the head.
Head is neither tilted down or up. Chest is comfortably high.
Arms hang loosely by the side. Feel a tall, straight, comfortable spine.
Weight is balanced evenly on both feet. Never slouch to one side.
Have one foot slightly in front of the other the ‘ready’ position.
Stand in front of the mirror and ask. Would I like looking at this person?
Bend over gently and hang from the waist like a rag doll.
Unroll the spine, slowly, vertebra by vertebra until the body is comfortably up right.
Roll shoulders into an upright position. Avoid the stiff, tin-soldier look.
Swing arms gently review the body and make sure that it is relaxed and ‘ready to work’.
Never begin speaking without setting the body up first.
– Abdominal (deep) breathing is good.
– Chest (shallow) breathing is bad.
– Abdominal breathing relaxes the body, lowers the heart rate, and releases more oxygen into the blood stream.
– Abdominal breathing allows us to center ourselves and speak from a more grounded position.
– Abdominal breathing gives us a greater breath control so as to avoid running out of air or feeling ‘winded’.
– Chest breathing is the ‘breath of exhaustion’, leads to poor posture because of chest heaving, and most importantly, leads to muscular tension in the throat
Remember: In, Down and Out. Shoulders, chest, and upper body stay relatively still. We were born to breath abdominally. Practice this form of breathing not only when speaking but allow it to become your habitual way of breathing.
Abdominal Breathing Exercises:
– During inhalation, feel the lungs fill deeply, while the abdominal area relaxes and expands. Keep an observant hand across the tummy.
– Feel the bottom ribs expand side ward as the deep breath is taken. The “chicken wing” exercise.
– Feel the back of the rib cage expand during the deep breath. Fingers touching across the lower back push them apart as the breath is taken in.
– Imagine a tire inner tube around the middle. …as the breath comes in, the tube inflates. …as the breath is released the tire deflates.
– Imagine the body working like a ‘bellows’.
– Lie on a hard, flat surface with hands resting on the abdominal wall. Take slow, steady breaths and feel the abdominal area rise and fall. Breath in -tummy rises Breath out -tummy falls
– Lie on a hard, flat surface with several books piled on the abdominal wall. Watch the books rise and fall.
– While breathing in, count to five …then count to five as you exhale. Expand your breaths by breathing in to six, out to six. ..then in to seven. ..out to seven. …carry on until the count of ten.
– While on your back, breath in deeply then release the breath with a sigh. Move the sigh into an ” A w” sound. …feel the breath at the center of the sound. Feel the sound moving “on the breath”.
– Practice the ‘dog pant’ -slow, steady, controlled breaths.
– Take a deep breath in, hold an imaginary candle flame close to the mouth. ..release the breath slowly so that the flame flickers, but does not go out.
Exhalation & Connecting Breath with Sound
Correct inhalation through abdominal breathing allows correct exhalation. Exhalation is the moment when body and sound are connected. Good speakers learn to exhale efficiently in a manner that strengthens the voice.
– After taking an abdominal breath, release it while making a vigorous Hisssss. (a nasty hiss) Feel the abdominal muscles contracting, pulling up and under the breath.
– Practice the hsss in a long sustained way and in short, sharp pulses. Always keep the throat and jaw as relaxed as possible.
– Release the hiss and then feel the hiss give birth to “ahhhh”. SSSSAAAAH!!!!
– Cave Man Grunt or the Grunt of Exertion. Keeping the throat and jaw relaxed, grunt and feel the abdominal muscles contract
– Extend the grunt. …turn it into a yelp, a dog bark, a howl, a bird call. anything that connects the body (abdominal muscles) to the sound (vocal muscles).
– Think about the belly laugh, the cough, the martial arts yell, the tennis serve, the weight lifter, the howl, the shriek etc.
– Once these sounds are comfortable, begin to add an ’emotional’ element to the exercises Imagine each sound connected to an emotional state or an idea. Infuse SSSAAAH with happiness, surprise, anger, authority etc. Feel the emotional connection of the sound as the body produces it
*** Good vocal sound must be grounded in the body. This is what gives a sound foundation, strength, and resonance. The body (the abdominal muscles) are the POWER SOURCE of the voice. Never speak from the throat, always speak from the body!
The elements of sound include range, tone, pitch, color, volume, intensity , strength, inflection and variety. Once the voice is connected to the breath and body energy, then it is released through the vocal channel, the throat and through the articulators. (jaw, mouth, lips, tongue, teeth)
The Vocal Channel
Remember: The vocal cords are not the power source of the voice. The body is the power source.
– Feel the yawny space in the throat. Experiment with relaxing the throat and making sound.
– Practice deep, hollow sounds and cartoon voices.
– The space in the throat can be a tool for coloring the sound.
– Make sure the jaw is relaxed at all times. Let it hang freely from the hinges in front of the ears.
– Never clench the teeth or jaw, no matter how intense or emotional.
– Massage the jaw, let it hang open (falling asleep in front of the TV) Let gravity pull the jaw down.
The Articulators: (Lips and tongue)
– Don’t let the tongue pull back into the throat cavity. Don’t let the tongue push against the front teeth or the roof of the mouth.
– Make motor boat sounds flapping the lips and playing with sounds.
– Think of the tongue as a rug lying flat in the mouth.
– Let the tongue lie lazily on the floor of the mouth, touching the back edges of the bottom teeth.
– Don’t let the tongue pull back into the throat cavity -don’t let the tongue push against the front teeth or the roof of the mouth.
*** Tension in the tongue or jaw will lead to tension in the voice box.
Sound can be categorized in two ways:
1. Flat, monotone, lifeless, locked in and
2. Energetic, lively, flexible, variable.
– Emotionally dead.
– Hides our real feelings.
– Can be a result of insecurity or fear.
– Is alienating to our listeners.
– Engages body connection to the voice.
– Prevents the voice from being locked-in. (monotone )
– Keeps listeners alert and interested.
*** If we feel flat and deliver our speech in a monotone we will not be effective. But by using an inflected voice we can make ourselves feel more energetic allowing us to achieve our goals.
– Play the role.
– Put on a happy voice.
– Say every word like you mean it!
Concentrate on the meaning of the words and allow the appropriate inflection to reflect that meaning!
Exercises for range and inflection:
– With the hiss of exhalation, release the voice into a Siren. Let the sound soar up and
down, using the strength of the abdominal muscles. Keep the throat open and relaxed,
let the jaw hang freely. Explore the top and bottom of the vocal range.
– Turn the siren into a wave of slow, steady waves of sound up and down. Use your finger to draw the waves of pitch in front of you as you follow the motions with your voice. With mouth closed, practice the siren.
– Begin to infuse the sounds with emotion and honesty, rhythm and speed.
– Passing the Pumpkin exercise: Use the exercise (with or without an accompanying phrase) to explore inflection, meaning, rhythm, emotional variety. Explore the feeling of giving your message with your body and your sound.
– Using one word at a time, find several variations with inflection and tone.
I.E. “Well” as a question, an exclamation, or a drama.
“Oh”, “Please”, “Sit down”, “Help me!” all with drama and exclamation.
– Practice with words and phrases that are common to you. Use a tape recorder to explore the options.
– Turn phrases into longer sentences. Describe a step-by-step procedure (recipe changing a tire )
– Tell a children’s story and explore your energy, freedom and animation.
– Avoid “motor mouth”. Keep a natural speed and rhythm and pay attention to punctuation.
*** Feel the onset of the breath from the abdominal. Keep the throat and jaw relaxed. Explore the natural inflection and meaning of each phrase. Use punctuation to let each phrase release and then pause for breath.
LISTEN, LISTEN AND LISTEN SOME MORE!!!
– Identify the sounds, words and phrases that are difficult.
– Typical difficulties in English are the consonants: th, r, v, w.
– Typical difficulties are the diphthong vowel sounds: ay, oy, ow, oh.
– When a difficult sound or group of sounds is identified, then practice drills that contain those sounds. Use a tape recorder to record yourself and hear yourself back.
Sentences to practice:
– Wear you hair with care.
– There is room in the rear of the refrigerator.
– Is he a hearer or a listener?
– Think on this, that, and the other thing.
– Three thousand thirty three thimbles.
– The clothing is made of cloth.
– Bathe yourself in the bath thoroughly.
– The wine from the vine is very fine.
– There is a horror in the mirror.
– Poor Muriel was immured with the neurotic McClure.
– Six thick thistle sticks.
– Biscuit mixers.
– A critical cricket critic.
– Sixty six sickly chicks.
Once you have identified a problem sound and have learned how to form the sound and say the word correctly, then you must rehearse it until it becomes your habit.
– Choose four words or phrases each day and practice them constantly.
– Listen to tapes on books, videos, radio, television. Working with a tape recorder, imitate the sounds and the rhythmic pattern of the speech.
– Spend time every day reading out loud.
– Take every opportunity to practice.
– Read poetry and memorize it.
– Find speakers to listen to and then imitate them.
*** LISTEN! IMITATE! REHEARSE! MEMORIZE! HABITUALIZE!
Interacting with the audience is another aspect of speaking that makes for a more memerable, enjoyable and worth while experience.
- getting listeners activily involved
- tricks, games
- listening tests, jokes,