Skills Earth Sciences

Use of voice

Harnessing your voice effectively can greatly improve your stage presence and keep the attention of the audience throughout the presentation.

  • Take a few deep breaths before you begin. Breathe in through the nose and support through your stomach (diaphragm). This releases tension in your throat and shoulders and automatically relaxes and lowers your voice.
  • Keep your voice dynamic. Use speed and tone to add emphasis to important sentences. Be aware that monotonous speeches are very difficult to follow for longer periods of time.
  • Pay attention to your volume. Be careful not to shout or strain your voice, or to whisper. Tip: Imagine you are speaking solely to the people sitting at the back of the room. Support your voice by flexing your core (stomach) muscles.
  • Articulate your words, don’t mumble. Look up difficult pronunciations before you begin, so you don’t stumble over tricky words or concepts.
  • Slow down. Take breaks in between points, gather your thoughts. Nerves often translate into speaking too fast; pauses allow the audience to digest the information.
  • Filler words and sounds, like “uhm” are perfectly natural and give you a chance to slow down and think. The more you present and the more you practice the less you’ll have to search for words. Be careful that you don’t use them too often though, as that might give the impression of being unprepared.

This is a lot to be aware of all at the same time. It can be very difficult to change things like your voice tone, while also trying to focus on the content of your presentation. Awareness is the first step, change comes later. This is another reason why practicing is so important; if you are more comfortable speaking after a few test runs, you can focus on the content and vice versa.