How can someone learn to feel more confident when they speak if they have “nerves” or stage fright? What are some common pitfalls that undermine a speaker’s vocal authority? Why do so many people dislike the sound of their voice on recordings and is there anything they can do about this? Are there any tips for more efficient virtual communication? How can you prepare your voice for any type of speaking? Guest speaker, Kathryn Woods, is going to answer these questions and give some amazing tips to help you speak more confidently!
Kathryne Woods is a communication and speaking coach who calls herself a recovering shy person who understands the challenge that the lack of confidence can present when communicating. She has been on a 20-year journey helping people communicate clearly! She helps individuals and entrepreneurs speak more clearly to help them achieve their goals.
First, how can someone learn to feel more confident when they speak if they have “nerves” or stage fright? Woods shared that it is better to manage or control those nerves rather than completely get rid of them. You can change that nervous energy to exciting energy by using that brain and body connection! Breathing is a critical element to not only power our voice, but it is also a necessary body function. She shares that most people breathe improperly. Whether we realize it or not, breathing improperly can put ourselves into a mild state of physical and psychological anxiety. You breathe properly by breathing from diaphragm instead of your upper chest. If you notice you are exhausted after talking, you are possibly not breathing from diaphragm, or you might not be pausing enough to refresh your mind and body to feel comfortable. Learning to breathe from your diaphragm will help maximize your breathe capacity for your voice. Though we are born breathing properly, we learn habits of sucking in our stomach which makes us breathe improperly. Breathing improperly also means our brain is not getting enough oxygen which makes our amygdala want to take over, making it harder to think clearly and speak with poise. Kathryn shares that unless we have an unusual medical condition, we all breathe properly at night when we sleep. Thankfully, we can rewire our brain to breathe properly when we are awake!
What are some of those common pitfalls that undermines a speaker’s vocal authority? Being nervous or excited when talking can cause you to gasp for air at end of your sentence. Rushing can also cause you to sound nervous. You might feel rushed if you feel like you are not worth hearing. Try to remember you deserve to pause as much as you need to display expertise because you are worth hearing! Some speakers use up tones at the end of their sentences which can make people question what they say or invite disagreement. Others may have more of a breathy voice which can undermine themselves or can cause them to be taken less seriously. Being confident that you have valuable information to share with people can help!
Why do we tend to dislike the sound of our own voice and what can we do about this? Woods shares that because of a phenomenon called bone conduction, we hear our voice differently than anyone else hears it because of how our bones in skull vibrate. The bones in our skull vibrates at a frequency which causes us to perceive our voice to be lower in pitch and slightly different in quality than how the rest of the world hears it. When you listen to a recording of yourself speaking you are actually hearing how everyone else hears your voice all the time. Listening to a recording of yourself can be a valuable tool to give ourselves feedback and help shift how we sound if needed. You can learn to shift your rate, pitch and where in your body your voice is resonating. Listening to recordings of your voice more often can help you feel more comfortable and help you learn to transform your voice.
What are some tips for more efficient virtual communication? Kathryn advises to really try to learn proper breathing techniques to support your voice. When your breathing patterns are nonoptimal it can be difficult to make shifts in your voice because you would be building on an unsteady foundation. Learning proper breathing patterns and proper diaphragm breathing and remembering to pause when you need a breath will be a tremendous help! Pause for punctuation so you can take a breath and allow your listeners to process what you are saying. Try to remember that it is ok to pause and that it is hugely beneficial for you and your listeners. Just like runners in a marathon warm up before they run a race, try to warm up your voice before speaking in any event. Woods has a whole body and voice speaking warm up that is free on her website. Using a warmup can help you shift how you speak and how your voice sounds.
How can you prepare your voice for any type of speaking? Remember to learn and practice proper breathing techniques by breathing from your diaphragm. Try to shift your voice by changing your pitch, rate and where in your body your voice resonates. Be grounded in your body and breathing so you can respond to your listeners in a clear and calm way. Seek to pause and take breaks when speaking. Endeavor to warm up your voice before speaking. Above all, remember you deserve to be heard because your information is valuable!
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Written by Rebecca Younger | Staff blog writer