Public speaking can make even the most seasoned exec a bit weak in the knees. Vocal instructor Veronica Rueckert, host of Wisconsin Public Radio’s statewide news magazine “Central Time,” shares these top five tips for projecting confidence when it’s your turn at the mic.
- TAKE UP SPACE
This is much harder than it sounds. Doing yoga is fine for your physical and mental health, but when it comes to wellbeing during public speaking, try not to turn yourself into the dreaded Lady Pretzel. Tightly crossed legs and arms not only project closed body language, they make it hard to breathe and support your voice. Go with feet flat on the floor, an expanded chest and open arms.
- SAVE THE SPANX FOR ANOTHER TIME
I’ve got nothing against looking fit and fierce, or at least trying to, but nothing cuts off your breath support like a restrictive undergarment. If you’re out for a night on the town, pour yourself in. But if you need to own the room, make sure you can engage in deep abdominal breathing. Shallow breathing ramps up your anxiety levels and can make your voice sound weak.
- USE YOUR FULL DYNAMIC RANGE
Monochromatic voices are hard to listen to. Speakers using their full dynamic range engage the ear and capture attention. Find out what your range is and experiment with higher inflections and lower resonance. With practice, you’ll get more comfortable harnessing your vocal spectrum—and have more fun speaking, too.
- RE-THINK ‘WOMEN SPEAK’
Women are under fire for “vocal fry” (that gravelly growl in the lower register made popular by the Kardashians) and “uptalk,” turning statements into questions. Ultimately, voice is an instrument so you get to choose how to use it. Be advised, some studies show women are less likely to get jobs, promotions or opportunities when they have noticeable vocal fry. And uptalk can be seen as insecurity. Simple exercises can help.
- BE YOURSELF
Authenticity is the watchword of our time. It’s not enough to sound polished and poised. In fact, sounding too polished can even be a drawback today. Audiences, clients and colleagues want to know the real you. Your voice is an aural fingerprint; it’s unique and it’s all yours. Learn to be fearless in your quest to uncover the sound of your one true voice. –Veronica Rueckert
Rueckert presents “The Power of Women’s Voices” at BRAVA’s THRIVE Luncheon on May 18. To register, click here.