Whether you are giving a speech or performing in a play, it is essential to know how to project your voice. When you project your voice, you are making sure the little old lady at the back of the room who forgot her hearing aids can still hear you without you having to scream. This ability can mean the difference to having the interest of those in the room or others not paying a bit of attention to you because they cannot hear a word you are saying.
- Relax. Speaking before a group of people or an audience can be nerve-wracking. When you are nervous, there is a tendency for your muscles to tighten, particularly your vocal cords and throat. Practice your speech or lines ahead of time so you feel more confident or practice speaking in front of groups of people so you are more used to performing. Then, take a couple of deep breaths before walking out onto the platform.
- Strengthen your voice. Practice breathing properly so your chest rises when you inhale and lowers when you exhale. Proper breathing will help you project your voice because you will use your diaphragm to control the volume of your voice. Think about how easy it is for others to hear you when you make a sound when you yawn; this is because the sound comes from your diaphragm. Practice yawning and use the same muscles when you speak.
- Warm up your voice. When you exercise, you warm them up so they can perform their best during a workout session. The same principle is true for your voice. Your vocal cords are muscles and if you do not warm them up before a speech or performance, you will have to strain to project your voice. If you have a speech in the morning, sing in the shower, hum to yourself, talk to others more than usual—do anything to warm up those pipes.
- Look at the people to whom you are speaking. The direction of where your mouth faces determines where the sound from it goes. If you are looking down at your notes or the podium, the sound will shoot downwards. On the other hand, if you look at your audience, your voice will carry across the room. So, despite your nerve, face your audience and remember the little old lady at the back of the room.
The ability to project your voice is important not just for business or performances. It can help you in everyday life from hailing a cab or trying to get the attention of a sales person in a store. When practicing voice projection, keep in mind that some of the most influential people in the world were not just seen—they were heard.