Voice Skills

by Judy Apps

How can I avoid sounding monotonous

There’s a simple solution to this problem. If you want to avoid sounding monotonous, vary your speech in every way you can. If you listen to the great speakers, you will find that their delivery is constantly varied in pitch, tone, speed and volume. They use clear vowel and consonant sounds to aid understanding and to enliven what they say. They use varying rhythms. They use silence to punctuate their speech. They emphasise some words more strongly than others to bring out the sense of what they say. They vary the language they use, so that it is not all abstract expressions, but includes the language of the senses.

1. Speak clearly

You’re going to be monotonous if people can’t understand you, so clarity is the first essential. If someone mutters through a half-closed mouth, it feels to the listener as if they aren’t bothering. You can bring key words alive by giving full weight to the consonants, and by using large vowel sounds (see Articulation).

2. Vary your pitch

Pitching your voice at different levels will give what you say much more interest. This requires the ability to resonate the sound in different parts of your head and body.

If your voice is free, this happens automatically as your intention changes. For example, excitement or enthusiasm cause increased high frequencies, with the sound seeming to come from right up in your head.

Determination and trustworthiness show themselves in more body resonance. The voice seems to come directly from your chest or solar plexus.

3. Vary your tempo

Do you talk fast or slowly? To make an impact, you need to be able to vary the speed of your delivery. This depends largely on good Breathing. Good Articulation and Emphasis will also help to slow you down, and increase intelligibility and interest for your listeners.

If you have some information that you really want people to remember, slow down; speak clearly and emphasise what you have to say. You can always speed up a little for stories and anecdotes, provided that people can clearly hear what you have to say.

4. Increase and decrease the volume

It is monotonous to have to struggle to hear someone who is mumbling; it’s equally dull to listen to an unwavering booming tone that is fixed at a steady volume. So vary your volume control as well. Speak loudly sometimes to create an impact. Then say some things softly to draw people into your circle. This, of course, requires the ability to speak loudly when you want to.

5. Vary the rhythm

Think of the spoken word as if it were music, and vary the rhythm of your phrases. Great speakers do this all the time.

6. Use emphasis to create variety

Emphasis is a great way to bring your speech alive. Emphasise the key concepts, the most important words and the words essential to the sense.

Listen to a lively interviewer on the radio, and imitate his or her way of talking: you will find you have to put much more energy into your speaking than you might imagine if you wish to come even close to their way of delivery.

7. Be interested yourself

And beyond all the above techniques, interest yourself! Know why you are speaking, what you want to communicate, why it matters to you and what you want to achieve.

Otherwise WAIT...