I’ll tell you something right here and now: nobody was born an amazing speaker.
To this day, no one is a perfect communicator. No one is a perfect speaker. We humans have only just begun to use speech. Scientists believe we only started speaking 50,000 years ago. Our human ancestors date back to about 4 million years ago. We’re newbies at this.
All the amazing speakers who seem like natural professionals have worked hard on their communication skills. Even JFK was called an “ineffective speaker” when he started his political career.
Robert Caro said, “…with all the insecurity of a novice, in a voice ‘tensely high-pitched …[JFK] seemed to be just a trifle embarrassed on stage.”
Joel Osteen and Warren Buffett have both worked intensely on their communication skills. In college, Warren Buffett was petrified of getting in front of an audience. Understanding the importance of being an amazing communicator, he received some training. Now he tells you if you improve your speaking skills, you’ll earn 50% more in your career than if you don’t.
Fifty percent! I think that may be an understatement.
If you want to be an amazing speaker, you can. I’m going to tell you physiologically just how to do it. Here are the mechanics of sounding persuasive, authoritative and credible.
Being an Excellent Speaker in a Nutshell
- Be relaxed.
- Be warm & engaging.
- Be a great listener.
- Continue to improve your speaking skills.
- Use humor.
- Use open body language & warm facial expressions.
- Learn & practice the mechanics of speaking well.
Let’s delve into the mechanics of extraordinary communication skills.
The first thing you need to do is have a completely relaxed vocal mechanism. Your throat needs to be wide-open. An open and wide throat leads to a voice that sounds ultra-confident and persuasive. A voice that’s created with a tense throat not only makes us sound insecure and lacking in authority but stops the necessary oxygen from getting to our brains.
Do you know how, when you’re speaking in an anxiety-ridden situation, you forget about half of the genius stuff you had to say? Or you just ramble on not honing in on your point? You’re not getting enough oxygen to think clearly.
We teach our clients to use a series of relaxation exercises that involve breathing, rolling the head and shoulders, and tensing and releasing the appropriate muscles to create a relaxed state.
You can find our relaxation exercises in The Voice Spa video course, or you can take a class with one of our Convey coaches. The premise is to create tension and then release, paying attention to the feeling of relaxation you have after you let go of the tension.
Here’s my line for all of my clients for the past 25 years that I’ve been training them:
“You must be so relaxed you could almost fall asleep.”
Sounds crazy, right? Of course it does! We’ve been trained to be tense and stressed out during every speaking situation of our lives. Why wouldn’t that be the norm?
In grade school, the teacher calls on you. You stiffen up, straighten up, and a minor flight or flight reaction takes over your body. You reply with the smallest amount of words, your voice is tiny, and you might’ve said “um” 3 times.
Your present day experiences are no different. You’re in a meeting. You’re sitting on the edge of your seat, and it’s your turn to talk. Maybe you use too many words, or start stammering or forget your point. Maybe you used filler words like mad.
None of that comes from being completely relaxed, but that’s the exact time to try being so relaxed you could fall asleep.
Excellent Speakers use a Full Resonance
The next thing you need is to have a full resonance pattern. Speech is air. Speech is air molecules that vibrate. The vibrations ultimately arrive at a drum — your listener’s eardrum. The eardrum vibrates at the same rate and rhythm as the air molecules you’re sending out there.
Many of us strive for greater stations in life. We want to improve ourselves. Unfortunately, we often have voices that are too thin and too tight. As a result, we’re harder to hear in a meeting and we come across less authoritative and credible.
So you’ve done your relaxation exercises, and you’re so relaxed you could fall asleep. Now it’s time to let air out of your lungs and let your voice “take a ride on that air.”
With an open throat and lots of air, you’ll end up with a voice that’s full, resonant, and ready to be taken seriously. You need to allow the air to flow through the throat with no hindrances or obstacles. If you find that your throat sounds like it has a little glottal fry or the sound is too tight or too thin, you’ll want to practice opening up your throat and getting rid of the tension in your throat and in the back of your mouth.
Back Resonance is Also Necessary
What’s the difference between full resonance and back resonance? Full resonance is the general resonance pattern. Back resonance is the focus of energy over the back of your tongue. When we use front resonance, our voices sound smaller, more accented, less confident and less persuasive.
Try saying “1, 2, 3” and feel where those sounds are made. You’re probably making them with your mouth. Contrary to popular impression, this isn’t where we need to place our focus of energy.
(There are many people out there teaching that the sounds in Standard American English are made with the lips. It is incorrect. Please don’t practice this.)
Now try saying “1, 2, 3” without moving your lips and face. Pretend you’ve come from the dentist and have novocaine on your lips. Try to feel the resonance over the back of your tongue. Record yourself. You’ll notice that it sounds a bit crazy in your head, but on the recorder it sounds awesome.
Excellent communictors listen well.
Try not to think about what you’re going to say next while someone else is talking.
Try not to interrupt people when they’re speaking.
Think of improving your listening skills like any other skill. Try to get better incrementally.
Excellent speakers are warm and engaging.
You can be warm and engaging too! As well you should.
Make sure your face is relaxed. React to what people say with your facial expressions. This works on Zoom, too.
Smile when appropriate. Work on your small talk to increase your relationships. Remember that small talk is anything but small. If you’re talking about the weather you’re doing it wrong.
That’s you! An excellent speaker!
All you need to do is take these skills and bring them through the various communicative speaking situations of your life.
Don’t forget to take a free assessment from one of our coaches. We’re here to help you!. You can set up your free consultation here.
If you want immediate results get The Voice Spa. It’ll teach you to be an excellent communicator