The Power of Your Voice: Loudness

illustration of two men speaking via tin cans

This is iSpeak Clearly’s final article in a four-part series on the power of voice and vocal health. In last month’s article, I wrote about giving power to the female voice. In this article, I’ll discuss how to make sure your voice is heard.

Have you ever struggled to read the menu in a dark restaurant? It can be frustrating when the options are lost to you because you aren’t able to read the details. But, not to worry, solutions are at your fingertips…a pair of glasses, a magnifier, or the flashlight on your phone. Problem solved. Order and enjoy!

Unfortunately, when a spoken message in a meeting or presentation is lost to us because the speaker’s voice is too quiet, there is often no immediate solution. Listeners become frustrated when they must focus on hearing the message instead of listening to the content. When a microphone is not available, the audience often requests the person “speak louder!” That is usually ineffective because the speaker does not know how to increase the volume of his or her voice. As a result, the message is lost.

How is loudness created?

Our ability to generate adequate loudness is directly related to breath support and control.

Breath is the fuel for our voice. When we are relaxed, we breathe easily and efficiently. This allows us to generate the breath capacity necessary to create loudness appropriate to the situation.

Awareness of our breath allows us to control the flow and create resonance, which is vibration of sound around the area of the nose and mouth, to enhance volume and create a voice that is easy to hear.

Three key considerations to being heard

  • Loudness
    Adequate volume is important, not only to be heard but also to convey confidence. A person speaking with soft or weak volume is perceived as less confident or lacking emotion.

    Tip: Speak with a loudness that conveys confidence and enthusiasm.

  • Sustained Volume
    Speakers often start with adequate volume, then allow their volume to fade as they continue. As the volume fades, so does the listener’s perception of the speaker’s confidence. It conveys uncertainty and lack of conviction about the topic. The end of the message, often the most important part, is simply difficult to hear.

    Tip: Sustain your volume for the entire message to ensure it is easily heard and perceived positively.

  • Projection
    Voice projection is a crucial component in any speaking situation, whether one-to-one, with a small group, on the phone, or in front of a large audience. When we are nervous or unsure of ourselves, we often allow our voice to stay in the area of the mouth and lips. When you project your voice, you are moving it from your mouth to your listeners. You convey confidence when your voice reaches the listener with adequate volume.

    Tip: Project your voice by squaring your shoulders to the listener and directing your voice to the destination.

Where are you now?
First, you must develop mindful awareness of your use of volume and projection in a variety of speaking situations. By paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, you can begin to decide where you may need help and improvement.

Are you able to generate adequate relaxation and maximize breathing and resonance to project your voice to your audience? Let the content of your message be heard.