Great article by Kate Peters:
The Three Key Components of a Powerful Sound
The key components of a powerful sound are:
- passion, and
- strong vocal physique.
The first two components are achieved by being yourself and by being clear about your intention. The third, through awareness and practice.
Personality is “you” and the unique gifts you share with your audience. Personality is the unique imprint your thought leaves on your voice, making it distinguishable from other voices and revealing things about your particular experiences and perspective. You cannot escape the revelatory nature of your voice. The essence of who you are is in your voice for all to hear.
If you want to be heard, it’s vital that you celebrate your authentic self. In a New York Times interview Ursula Burns, the impressive new head of Xerox Corporation, wisely remarked, “I can’t try to say it in somebody else’s voice. I have to say it in my voice.”
Passion is the power of intention aligned with content and personality. We have already covered personality, so what about intention and content?
Content is simply what you have to say. It’s your message, your words, your ideas manifested in spoken form. Intention, on the other hand, is what you have in mind to do or bring about. It is why you are speaking in the first place, why you are standing in front of an audience, what you hope to accomplish. When intention, content and personality align, we have passion. And when there is passion, powerful things happen.
When a speaker is passionate, they seem authentic and genuine. For that reason, actors are trained to pour intent in their lines and speak with passion. We are so tuned in to this aspect of voices that babies as young as six months old can discern intention in voices. I have written about this subject in my blog.
If your intention is unclear, if it conflicts with your message or even with the reason people think you are there, your vocal power will diminish and you’ll lose your audience.
3. Strong Vocal Physique
“Speaking louder doesn’t create a powerful voice.”
Strong vocal physique is the ability to produce a vibrantly resonant sound and to have a good command of breathing technique.
Because sound travels on air, resonance and air are intimately connected in the voice. In an earlier Six Minutes article, I focus on good breathing technique for speaking. This is important because air itself makes the voice work. As you exhale, air moves from your lungs through your trachea (or windpipe). It then passes between your vocal folds (also called arytenoids and vocal cords) and brings those muscles together. As they vibrate, sound happens. You use your throat, tongue, lips, and jaw to shape the sound into words.
Now, if someone tells you to speak up, there is a good chance you will use more air as you increase your volume. That’s an improvement. But speaking more loudly may just come across as yelling — and you also risk straining your voice. It is more correct to suggest that you stand up straight, take a big breath, and use more air to carry the sound as you speak up, but that is a very long set of instructions for even the best of sound men! Better that you know what “project” means so you do it right.