Monotone voices kill attention. In the world of presentation skills, monotone means sameness. From moment to moment, from beginning to end, a monotone speaker’s voice never changes. There is no variety.
The cure for sameness is variety. How can you build variety into your voice? The answer stems from the three elements that characterize your voice: 1) Loudness; 2) Tone; and 3) Timing. To transform your voice from monotone to dynamic, add these three elements.
Remember how you used a yellow highlighter to call attention to words, phrases, sentences, and even paragraphs when studying for a test? Think of your voice as a kind of highlighter. Let’s see how this notion of vocal highlighting can work.
Here’s a brief excerpt from a classic reading passage called “My Grandfather.”
You wish to know all about my grandfather? Well, he’s nearly ninety-three years old and he still thinks as swiftly as ever. A long beard clings to his chin giving those who observe him a pronounced feeling of utmost respect.
Record your voice as you read the passage out loud, then play it back and just listen. Do you hear sameness or variety in your voice? More than likely, you hear sameness. There’s little change in your loudness, tone, or timing.
Now record it again only this time use your vocal highlighter to add variety. Here are some suggestions:
- You wish to all about my grandfather?
- Stretch out the phrase “all about my”
- Raise your pitch at the end of “grandfather”- making it sound like a question.
- Well, he’s nearly ninety-three years’ old
- Say the word “Well”with a smile on your face – sounding like you’re happy, and pause briefly after you say it.
- Stretch out the phrase “ninety-three years old”
- Raise your pitch and smile on the word “old”
- A long beard clings to his chin
- Say the entire phrase slowly
- Stretch out the word “long”
- Bring one hand up to your chin, squeeze it together while you move it downward from your chin, timing your movement with the slowness of the phrase
- Giving those who observe him – speed up while you say the entire phrase
- A pronounced feeling
- Stretch out the word “pronounced”
- Slow down and pause briefly after “feeling”
- Of utmost respect – Say the word “utmost” as though it was two separate words and pause briefly between them.
And that how it works!! Allowing the meaning and the richness of the words and phrases to come through, you transform your voice and your entire delivery from monotone to dynamic. How? Add variety to your loudness, tone, and timing – along with a few gestures and facial expressions.
To continue building your dynamic voice, think of your old friend – the yellow highlighter. You don’t need to search through your drawers or cabinets to find wherever you left it so long ago. It’s already built right into your voice. Just make sure think “vocal highlighter” during your presentations. As you do, your listeners will be riveted to your every word.