Speaking Up: How to Increase the Volume of Your Voice
Have you ever noticed that speakers of American English often speak at a loud volume? If yes, you have noticed an interesting cultural norm that is common to many regions of the United States. In many other corners of the world, people speak more quietly, and this can take some getting used to.
What are the benefits of using volume in speech? Speaking up allows you to be more clearly understood and also adds emphasis to what you are wanting to communicate. Improving your volume can be achieved through some simple and fun techniques that can be done by anyone!
The key to volume is breath support- have you ever been exercising or working out and found it difficult to speak while doing so? This is because our speech is powered by having adequate air in our lungs! When we’re short of breath, our vocal cords have less air to create speech.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a method of breathing that strengthens the diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle located right below your lungs. Breathing deeply with your diaphragm allows you to take in the most oxygen possible in the most efficient way, and will give your speech maximal breath support. This will also help you avoid straining your back, neck and chest muscles.
How do I do this?
Sit in a comfortable position or lie on you back. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. Breathe in slowly through your nose. You should feel your stomach moving outwards, while your chest should move as little as possible. Tighten your stomach muscles and exhale through your mouth, feeling your stomach move back down.
Practice this technique for about five minutes 3-4 times a day. It may be difficult at first, however, you will notice this muscle grow stronger as you exercise it!
Ever been a part of a choir or singing group? Have you noticed that singers do warm-ups to prepare their vocal cords before a performance? In the same way, you can warm up your voice before speaking to train yourself to speak with more volume.
One technique you can try is humming. Sounds silly, right? However, the simple task of humming helps train your brain to allow you to breathe and speak more efficiently. When you hum, you are forced to breathe in through your nose before you exhale. This will also boost your diaphragmatic breathing skills!
Don’t Forget Posture!
Keeping good posture allows for your voice to resonate in the most effective way possible. When speaking, try to hold your chest high and shoulders slightly down. This assists your lungs with expanding fully to give you the most breath support. Keeping a long, straight neck helps air to move through your vocal cords in an unobstructed manner.
Practice Speaking with Confidence
Speaking with volume can be nerve-wracking, especially in a group or unfamiliar setting. We’ve all experienced these moments of discomfort. Afterward, we often realize that we were more afraid than we had to be. Imagine the worst possible outcome. Will it truly be that bad? Would you still be ok if this happened? Ask a friend to help you practice or even speak in front of the mirror to help you boost your confidence.
Use Volume to Create Effect
Volume not only helps you speak more clearly, but you can also alter your volume to create more effect. By making words louder, longer, and higher in pitch (otherwise known as using stress), you draw interest from your listener.
For example, say this sentence in a monotone voice:
I’m not driving to the beach tomorrow.
Now try saying it by stressing the word in bold:
I’m not driving to the beach TOMORROW! (Implies you will not be leaving tomorrow, but you might leave a different day)
Or, like this:
I’m not driving to the BEACH tomorrow! (Implies that the beach is not where you will be going, but you might be going to a different location)
Which sentences communicate more effectively and meaningfully? The ones with emphasis, of course! Your volume and pitch can give your message power.
Using Volume Takes Practice
Speaking at a louder volume than we are used to can feel very strange and even uncomfortable. Just like any new skill, practice is key! By working on these techniques even a few minutes a day, you will give yourself the tools for success in meetings, presentations, phone calls, and group discussions. Whether your motivation is to improve communication at work or in your personal life, we can all find ways to benefit from incorporating new strategies into our speech.
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