When you speak too softly in a presentation the audience will strain to hear you and often ask you to repeat yourself. This can cause some people to get in a fluster. The audience may well miss key points or give up trying to hear what you are saying at all. None of which is ideal and brings on a downward spiral. Add to this that the audience will also judge soft speakers as less credible and that is reason enough to want to learn to speak at an appropriate volume.
Anyone who is nervous tends to get stressed and that constricts the muscles around our voice box and impacts our volume and clarity of speech. Introverted preference personality styles like “Caring” and “Information styles” are naturally softer speakers too so this blog may be particularly relevant for you.
If you want to be heard in business presentations, meetings, boardrooms and on virtual calls you will need to increase your volume. It’s not always as easy as “just speak uping” or using an app – often there are other issues causing the low volume such as poor breathing techniques, underlying nerves and fear or old unconscious beliefs (for example you may have been told as a child ‘stop showing off’). We work with clients at a suitable level for their needs, showing them how being heard in the business environment is: a blend of having the right breathing and voice techniques, the mindset to allow this to flow and the right posture and body language to support the voice.
When public speaking the ideal volume will depend on many things, from the environment to background noise, but as a general indicator the average whisper is 30db, a normal conversation is about 60 dB and a Fortissimo (loud) singer is around 80 dB. So for a good presentation voice without a microphone in a larger room, you might want to aim for 70-80db. Once we’ve taught participants how to breathe correctly and speak at an appropriate volume, we always recommend they practice – thus embedding their new behaviour. With regards to virtual presenting, it is important to check your microphone is working (test it beforehand) Also remember to use all the tips in our body language blog to help portray a clear and confident voice.
1. The old-fashioned way to practise is to have a buddy help you
A. Ensure your buddy is not a fellow soft speaker!
B. Ideally, be in the room you will be giving the presentation in, or a similar one
C. Ask the buddy to sit at the back
D. Practise your presentation for 2 mins or so
E. Ask for feedback on volume and voice projection
F. Repeat adapting to the feedback
2. Prefer to do it alone? You can use apps to help avoid speaking too quietly and check your volume control.
In our “Present With Confidence” programme we show participants exactly how to use their voice, body and mindset to become more confident. We love hearing the difference that our programmes make (literally!) We also have other programmes to work on developing an appropriate mindset where it is totally OK to stand up and be heard (AKA Taming your Public Speaking Monkeys). If you’d like to find out more about how we can help then get in touch today!