By which I mean: is your voice dull? Is it monotone, lacking in “light and shade”, changes in tone and pitch? Flat, repetitive, difficult to listen to for any length of time? Hard to understand? Do you have a heavy accent? Do you feel self conscious putting expression and emphasis into your voice?

Sarah Lockett, TBD Media
Sarah Lockett, TBD Media

Or are you, like me (according to my mum) a terrible show-off who just likes listening to the sound of her own voice?! You have to be a bit of the latter to be a good communicator. But not over-the-top, obviously.

There’s a great line in Channel 4’s “Father Ted” when Ted needs one of his friends to make an announcement over a department store’s intercom. A likely candidate pipes up, “Ted, do you need someone with a dramatic, resonant, theatrical voice?!” seeing his chance at fame. (The answer is no, we need someone with a terribly dull voice). But my point is: you do have to be a bit theatrical to get your point across well.

Teachers are usually good at this (not always) because they need their students to understand, to follow and absorb what they’re saying. They need to transmit the emphasis, the important aspects of any given topic. If they see their class is not following, they think of another way of expressing it, working around the subject until it’s understood. We all need to be teachers when we’re speaking – we need to ask: are we communicating well, and are people understanding?

I have been teaching communication skills for a while now, and in these Coronavirus times, I have pivoted (terrible corporate jargon, sorry) to teaching remote/Zoom video skills. One of the key aspects is using your voice well. If you’re someone who naturally likes to be in the background, then put a bit more expression into your voice, and don’t feel embarrassed or self-conscious. If you’re not a “front-of-house” type – even a bit shy – then get over it! When people can only see you as a 5cm square on a Zoom screen (or smaller on the phone), they need more expression from you, or ‘projection’ as they say in the theatre 🙂

This and many more techniques are covered in my Remote Video Presentation Skills course, delivered via Zoom/Microsoft Teams or a platform of your choice. Get in touch, or even call me, with your best, resonant, theatrical voice!

Sarah Lockett

Sarah Lockett is a former BBC News / Sky News anchor who currently presents a variety of content for corporate clients and delivers media training.
She has presented on BBC News and Sky News, plus reported for Channel Four News, 5 News, Reuters and others.
She now hosts webinars and conferences, chairs corporate/academic panel discussions, hosts award ceremonies and events. She writes, presents and produces training videos, as well as voiceovers (both factual and drama/comedy). She has written two books and is also working as an actor.

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