The feel good factor of voicing thoughts

Mar 08 2013 by Janet Howd Print This Article

Before beginning to work with clients on their vocal delivery, I increasingly find that I need to spend time rephrasing and reshaping their material to better fit the audience they plan to address. This is because we are all becoming so used to addressing each other via e-mail, blogs, tweets and texts that many a presentation ends up either too chatty to do justice to the importance of the subject, or too densely worded to be absorbed by ears alone.

Realising this, many of us think that by showing slides containing exactly the same words we plan to say will not only make our meaning more clear, but also act as a memory prompt. The latter is certainly true, but, since reading can be done so much more quickly than listening, showing words on a screen at the same time as they are being spoken merely produces static noise.

We can never know what will happen to our ideas once we let go of them. But the more we aim to fulfil our duty of care towards listeners by packaging our ideas expressly for them, the less likely the information is to deviate from our original intention.

A valuable off-shoot of selecting varied and palatable words designed to resonate clearly in listener's minds is that they make the speaker feel replete too. As Mark Twain so eloquently put it, "lecturing is gymnastics, chest expander, medicine, mind healer, blues destroyer all in one."

How, then, can we meld each of those ingredients into our own verbal recipes and experience the feel good factors that Twain extolled?


It is essential for a gymnasts to have a sense of balance. To hold the body taut but tensile so that at any given moment it can be released into the spring or the lift or whatever movement has to be made to execute a chosen display.

Essential to the control of those movements is knowing how to control breath flow so that it inflates and deflates at exactly the right moments for the gymnast to maintain control throughout that display.

Make sure that you have worked out how much breath will be required to deliver your words to all corners of the space you have to work in and at what points you will need to pause to replenish the supply.

Chest expander

This is most on show when deeply inhaled breath is held captive prior to one dazzling display of dexterity or before commencing a period of protracted effort.

Make sure that you have worked out which type of effect you want to use where, in order to engage and maintain audience interest.


When animation lights up the eyes of a speaker who wants to elicit an equally animated response from an audience pheremones are released that really do add to the good health of both parties.

Make sure the message you wish to share contains varied segments. Practise delivering it with animation appropriate to each one.

Mind healer

Formulating knowledge we own into a shape that others can understand will force us to penetrate to the root of our ideas and make sure they are secure before we speak them out loud. Then, when questions are asked, we will see clearly whether to add their ideas to our stock, dismiss them as weeds or realise that they are deliberately planted contaminants.

Make sure you are secure in the knowledge of that of which you speak so that any sparring during question times is an energising, thought provoking experience.

Blues destroyer

Make sure that the adrenaline that keys us up to do a good job and warms us to our subject is controlled from the outset by concern for the comfort and needs of your audience rather than concern for yourself. This will provide your interaction with such a buzz of energy and pervade it wth such a pleasurable after glow that the blues will not get a look-in for a considerable length of time.

Happy talking!

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About The Author

Janet Howd
Janet Howd

Janet Howd is a voice coach who works with corporate, academic, legal, theatrical and private clients in the UK, North America, Australia and Europe.