Listening to a talk is much more enjoyable when the speaker's voice is easy to listen to. But how do you achieve a voice that's easy to listen to?

There are a few simple techniques that can help increase impact and enhance the way you give talks and presentations.

Why does it matter?

If you don't have a clear voice it can cause a few issues. If you're asked to speak up or repeat yourself it can reflect badly and be embarrassing. A good strong voice can boost your credibility, whereas a weak one can cause adverse effects.

1.     Speak clearly

One word can easily run into the next when we are feeling tired or lazy. Try not to rush - if you're talking too quickly, people can easily miss what you have said.

A lack of clarity can happen when failing to clearly sound the beginnings and endings of words. You might say ‘next Tuesday' as ‘nexchoosdy'. Make sure you really sound the ‘t' of ‘next' and the ‘t' of Tuesday. You should be able to feel the tongue on the roof of your mouth.

2.     Avoid monotone

We all know how boring a monotone voice can be. By varying the intonation and letting your voice rise and fall, your voice will sound more natural. When speaking with passion our voices tend to do this on their own.

3.     Place emphasis on keywords

Notice how changing the emphasis on certain words will change the meanings. For example, ‘It's vital that we support Derek on this very important project' is very different to ‘It's vital that we support Derek on this very important project.'

Your meaning will become clearer when the emphasis is placed on different words. Try running through your presentation and highlighting any keywords or phrases you'd like to emphasise.

4.     Avoid raising your voice at the end of sentences 

Raising your voice at the ends of sentences can negatively impact your authority. If a voice is high-pitched at the end of a sentence it can give the impression the speaker is nervous or even childish.

5.     Give a sentence more weight by dropping your voice at the end

This will give you credibility - but be careful not to overdo it. It can come across as confrontational.

6.     Focus on your breathing

When you have shallow breath, it can make you nervous and your voice quieter. Try to practice diaphragm breathing and breathe all the way down to your stomach. As you breathe in, your stomach should move out. This helps to clear airways and boost resonance - the deep and strong quality of a reverberating voice.

Speaking exercise

To enhance your speaking skills, try this short exercise:

1.     Find a short article to read.

2.     Read aloud for a minute and record yourself.

3.     Listen back and review. Try to identify what you do well and what you can do differently.

4.     Now read it again, putting into practice what you have learnt. Notice the difference.

5.     Read a different piece to develop your skills further.