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‹ View all articles 10th November 2015

How to master your tone of voice (and not sound like a total robot)

Public Speaking Essentials


The I in VOICE is for Intonation.

How do you use your voice for good in public speaking? The difference between a gifted storyteller and a monotonous robot is all about the letter "I": Intonation; the rise and fall of the tone of voice, and Inflection; the emphasis you place on words. Audiences thrive on messages that sound interesting, so put your full belief behind whatever you're saying.


Are you aware of how your tone of voice behaves? It’s easy to think we’re being entertaining, but the digital spouting robot within can show through your voice in public speaking, especially when:

-       You’re talking for a long time (perhaps 30mins or longer) -       Your topic is technical or complex -       You don’t have the confidence to fully back your message -       You think ‘professionalism’ is more important than entertaining your audience

Think for a moment – how many times have you heard fellow audience members complain “ugh, that speaker was boring”? Perhaps that was due in part to his or her intonation. And how many times have you heard fellow audience members complain “ugh, that speaker was just too entertaining”? I know I’ve never heard the second one!

It's all about that "I" Intonation and Inflection

Great intonation is one sure way of bringing a sense of entertainment and energy into your speaking. Does your voice have energy? Do you sound angry, tired or bored? Remember, as with other forms of non-verbal communications, your voice has to match the words that you say. If you say "I'm excited to be here," but your voice is flat, your audience will believe your non-verbals rather than your words.Your voice has a wide range and the potential to convey meaning and emotion to your audience. Learning to tap into the power of your voice will enable you to become a more powerful communicator.

Inflection allows you to emphasize key words and emotions and helps convey your exact meaning to the audience. For example, try speaking the sentence, "I am so glad to be here" with a variety of different meanings just by changing your voice inflection. You could say "I am so glad to be here." [no one else is]" or "I am SO glad to be here! [I almost didn't make it]" or "I am so glad to be here?" [no, I'm really not] or "I am so glad to be here… [but should I be?]" or "I AM SO GLAD TO BE HERE!!!" [you're scary dude.] These sentences have vastly different meanings, but the words are the same – only your tone of voice has changed.

Check how powerful your intonation and inflection are by recording yourself speaking. You can practice by reading a story out loud (even better if you have kids!) Try reading it once with poor intonation and then with exaggerated intonation. See which version sounds best.




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