Our voice is our instrument. We need to learn how to control our voices in a variety of ways to be effective speakers. As you prepare for your performances, ask yourself:
- Can my audience hear me? Make sure you have appropriate amplification for your venue. Your needs will be different in a theater, a gym, outside and in an office. An audience composed of elders will have different needs than pre-schoolers.
- Do I know how to use the amplification equipment? Make sure you have time for a sound check and understand how to modulate your volume when you have an amplifier.
- Do I know how to protect my voice? If you don't have amplification equipment, make sure you know how to project, how to protect and how to most effectively use your voice. You can learn more about this from a voice teacher and other storytellers.
- Are the voices I'm using appropriate?
- If you have different character voices make sure they are easily distinguished and consistent.
- If you're trying to use an accent, make sure you do it really well. A badly done accent is distracting to the audience and insulting to the people you're trying to sound like. Accents rarely make a story better.
- Lastly, remember to breath, remain hydrated and hold yourself upright. Because our voices are our instruments and are part of our bodies, we need to treat our bodies well. Take deep breaths. Drink some water. Stand up. You'll feel better and sound great.
The voice is really nothing short of miraculous. When you tell a story, your brain wraps images and ideas in language. That language is made audible by contractions of your vocal cords, movements your tongue, lips and teeth, and air expelled from your lungs. Those vibrations in the air then move through the world, until they reach the timpanic membrane of your listener's ear, where they are interpreted and turned into the listener's own images and ideas as shown in the story triangle. The voice allows a direct route from one mind to another. Relish it. Respect it. And it will carry you to new and unexpected places.