Category: Public Speaking

How to Project Your Voice

How to Project Your Voice

Do people have a hard time hearing you? Sure, you could speak louder, but it’s not just about increasing your volume.

One of my clients wanted to improve his speaking in a very specific environment– loud bars and clubs. Context is always important. I wouldn’t recommend straining your voice to speak against loud noises, there’s a very under-appreciated tactic of voice projection.

How to project your voice?

Consider the trajectory of your voice– how exactly are you targeting your reach. If you’ve ever done martial arts, you know it’s important to aim behind the board when you punch.

Aiming just at the board will mess up your speed, power, and follow through.

The voice is no different, especially with timid speakers. What feels “loud” for you, is probably still soft. What feels “over-reaching” for you, probably lands just right.


Zoom Out | Make a Bigger Picture

Zoom Out | Make a Bigger Picture

Sometimes the mistakes you make seem bigger than they actually are. That’s because you’re too zoomed in!

Part of the process of improving any skill is to be honest in your own assessment. You don’t want to gloss over problems that you’re making. There’s no point in sugar-coating and saying it was “perfect” when it clearly wasn’t.

That said, it’s a maddening and unproductive path to nitpick apart every single slip up. If you get too caught up in those actions, you might be too entrenched in self-criticism you forget the point.

Are your reflections actually helping to pave the way to something better?

Don’t be too zoomed in.

Zoom out, and make sure the efforts you make to correct aren’t wasted on the trivial things.

It’s not just about seeing the bigger picture, but taking steps to ensure that you’re moving towards a bigger picture.

You Need More Active Speaking

You Need More Active Speaking

Don’t get stuck being passive.

I get it: you’re shy. Well guess what, I’m shy too. Don’t believe me? That’s on you.

Too many people use their feelings as justification. But we’ve all had to work when we felt sick. We’ve all kept watching a show we didn’t feel was that interesting.

Actions trump feelings. You can still be more active despite feeling shy.

The Fallacy of Flow

The Fallacy of Flow

Re-listening to my latest Ruthless Love podcast (yes, I’m that kind of person) got me to thinking about conversation expectations.

In that episode, I thought things were going great because there was a lot of texting. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. And hey, I know what you’re thinking. “Pffft, texting?” But no! It was like a lot, a lot.

The moral of the story being actions speak louder than words. Talk is cheap. You know the cliches. Basically, you can say a lot of things and not really mean anything. (Conversely: you can “say” a lot by not saying anything.)

Was I sucker back then? Maybe Probably. Are people still a sucker for this stuff even now? For sure, but not just in dating!

With any kind of communication dynamic, there’s a false expectation in how it’s supposed to play out.

With my English-learning clients, I see this happen. They’ll listen to a native speaker and have trouble with a conversation. “Americans speak fast” is the observation. “I need to speak fast to be fluent” becomes the conclusion.

That’s definitely not the case.

Real communication can be pretty ugly. It’s full of stops and stutters, pauses, repeats, and abrupt endings. Of course, it rarely looks that way in TV and movies unless you’re watching a scene that’s trying to play up the awkwardness.

Just yesterday, I was helping a client with some listening practice. I was using short TED Talk clips like this one:

Damon Horowitz is a little different from other TED Talks. He’s more on the theatrical side instead of the slow-flow style presentations that’ve become the TED Talk norm.

Is it a good presentation? Debatable.

Is this an effective presentation? Sure.

Is it real communication? I’d argue no.

When you’re trying to be a better speaker, be aware of your standards and models. If you really want to speak like Damon, it’s definitely achievable. Keep in mind that he goes through a lot of practice and rehearsals to deliver his speech in that manner.

It’s not a style of speaking he’d do impromptu (i.e. “real”/natural communication).

TL;DR There’s a flow of back and forth and a flow of words themselves. Don’t be too quick to idolized. There is such a thing as “too smooth”.