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Painting a Picture with Your Voice

Nancy Daniels, Voice Coach

ne of the best pieces of advice I give to my clients is to paint a picture with your voice, with your facial expression, and with your body language when speaking. Those who read audio books are marvelous in this respect because their job is to depict everything they are saying so that the listener becomes riveted to the story and to their words.

While some people are very colorful in conversation and cold and immobile at the lectern, occasionally I will work with an individual who is practically lifeless in person, but in the limelight is a veritable ‘Personality Plus.’ A good example of this was John.

Tall, lean and lank, with a long, handsome face, John had difficulty looking me in the eye in conversation. Reminiscent of a young Jimmy Stewart, John may have been uncomfortable in a one-to-one, but in front of the camera, he smiled and was extremely outgoing, exuding charm and wit. The same holds true for a number of actors. On stage, they become someone else. In private they may be shy, withdrawn, inhibited.
Color is individual. Color is human. Color is emotion

Color is individual. Color is human. Color is emotion. How emotional are you? If you display little color in your voice when speaking, be it in person, on the podium, or in both cases, then the following exercise can help you put some life into your voice. I caution you, though, that I am asking you to act a bit. Try to place yourself in the circumstances of the example below. (By all means, do this privately because you may need to let go of some inhibitions.)

Read the following sentence out loud and recording yourself on video or by means of audio.

The temperature outside was -10deg and I stood there shivering, wondering which direction would lead me out of this cold, white wonderland of woods.

The greatest words or the greatest speech can be only mediocre if there is no color in your delivery.
Now play it back. Was it just a pile of meaningless words or did your voice draw a picture? Would a listener have felt the cold, empathized with the fact that you were lost, and envisioned a beautiful snowy forest? Suppose that you were describing this experience to a friend. Chances are your friend would see this emotion in your face or hear it in your voice. Reading or speaking to an audience requires that same expression or feeling.

Do not be afraid to allow your emotion to be heard and seen. If all the great public speakers are doing it and you are not, how good do you think you will be in this venue? What makes a speech or presentation interesting is how dynamic you are in delivering it. The greatest words or the greatest speech can be only mediocre if there is no color in your delivery.

In addition to her guest speaking engagements, Nancy offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice training and public speaking skills throughout the United States and Canada. For those are unable to work with
her directly, there is Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on voice training, future workshops, and
Voicing It!, visit her Voice Dynamic website.


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