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Voice Projection
Talking Pace
Vocal Tonalities
Vocal Modulation
Vocal Exercises
Verbal Patterns

[New Public Speaking Book]

How to Master Your Voice - Chapter 4

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This page will teach you exactly how to master your voice and captivate audiences.

It will teach you the main ideas from Chapter 4 of How to Master Public Speaking.


You will learn little-known vocal secrets...


...and easily speak well. These techniques are awesome.


Let's go!


Other Chapters

Contents of This Chapter

Voice Projection

What do you have to learn to do before you can learn to run?


Learn to walk.


What do you have to learn to do before you can use strategic emphasis, breaking rapport tonality, and tone modulation?


Learn to project your voice.


It's the same thing.


Every single technique taught in this book (all ~300 of them) hinge on your ability to do one thing:


Project your voice.


You want people in the back row to hear you just as clearly as those in the front row. You want your voice to resonate throughout the room. You want the beautiful intricacies of your individual voice to be noticed and appreciated. What's the key?

Voice projection.


I want to try something:


Next time you speak, take a deep breath before you say anything. Then when you start to talk, let out the air with every word.


It will make your voice carry farther.


Read these sentences:


  • She didn't say he was a bad public speaker.

  • She didn't say he was a bad public speaker.

  • She didn't say he was a bad public speaker.

  • She didn't say he was a bad public speaker.

  • She didn't say he was a bad public speaker.

  • She didn't say he was a bad public speaker.

  • She didn't say he was a bad public speaker.

  • She didn't say he was a bad public speaker.


The placements of emphasis change the meaning of the sentences.


Amazing, isn't it?


Don't worry:


If you understand how to use emphasis, the sentence will be: She didn't say he was a bad public speaker.


Most of us have an intuitive sense for how to place emphasis on a word. If not, here's a quick overview:


  • Say the first syllable of the word louder.

  • Make the pitch of the word slightly higher or lower.

  • Say it slower.

  • Stretch the vowel sound.

  • Make a brief pause after you say it.

  • Use emphatic physical gestures.


This seems trivial, doesn't it?

No. How dare you. Where you place emphasis has a MASSIVE impact on how your message sounds. Don't believe me? Just reread those sentences above.

Be strategic. Place emphasis on the most important words in your sentence.



I'm going to guess you've heard Barack Obama speak.


If you haven't, then go watch a video of any Obama speech.


If you have, then you should know he's an excellent public speaker. You should also know he uses frequent pauses.


And here's what that does for him:


  • Makes him seem suave.

  • Makes him seem in control.

  • Makes him seem deep-in-thought.


Dramatic pauses are one of the most versatile tools at your disposal.




They are attention grabbers.


You pause, your audience looks up.


"Why a pause? Did they forget what they were going to say? Are they about to say something super important? I want to know!"


Here's exactly when you should use pauses for maximum effect:


  • Before you start your speech.

  • Once after your hook

  • Once before and after the single most important sentence you have.

  • Any time you feel a stumble coming.

  • Any time you feel an "um" coming.

  • Any time you feel like looking deep-in-thought.

  • Any time you want to regain audience attention.


The tension just builds in the room if a speaker deliberately pauses for 5, 10, or even 15 seconds. In the heat of that tension, your audience is most attentive.


Here's a last reason to use pauses:


Without pauses you sound like this the parts of your sentences do not form coherent thoughts and together they are like a poorly stitched tapestry which you do not want because it is terrible to listen to so trust me use pauses and dramatic pauses.


Pauses are the punctuation of your speech. You wouldn't write without punctuation, would you?


Let's compare:


Without pauses, you sound like that (above). The parts of your sentences do not form coherent thoughts and, together, they are like a poorly stitched tapestry, which you do not want because it is terrible to listen to. So trust me: use pauses and dramatic pauses.

Talking Pace

For some reason, NOBODY talks about the power of talking pace.


But let me tell you:


It is very powerful.


It can r e l a x your audience, or excite them.


It can p u t  t h e m t o s l e e p, or it can JOLT them awake. 


I'm going to briefly state the obvious (I hate stating the obvious, but it has to be done):


Don't speak too fast. Don't speak too slow.


Everything else I will say from here on out applies to speaking moderately fast, and moderately slow. It applies within acceptable bounds.


Here's what's good about talking slow:


  • It makes you seem confident and in control.

  • It makes you feel confident and in control.

  • It makes you easier to understand.

  • It helps you avoid stumbles and conversation fillers.

  • It helps you plan the direction of your next sentence.

  • It helps you more carefully modulate your voice.

  • It relaxes your audience.


And here's what's good about talking fast:


  • It makes you seem passionate and excited.

  • It makes you feel energetic and intense.

  • It makes your audience listen closely.

  • It helps you speak naturally (no excessive planning).

  • It helps you open a stream of consciousness.

  • It helps you portray intensity.

  • It excites your audience.


If you're trying to compare fast and slow, don't.


I'll tell you which one to use:


The one that comes naturally to you. It's that simple.



Here's a bunch of tone words that you don't really need to know...


...but that might inspire you:


  1. accusatory: charging of wrong doing

  2. apathetic: indifferent due to lack of energy or concern

  3. awe: solemn wonder

  4. bitter: exhibiting strong animosity as a result of pain or grief

  5. cynical: questions the basic sincerity and goodness of people

  6. condescension: condescending-a feeling of superiority

  7. callous: unfeeling, insensitive to feelings of others

  8. contemplative: studying, thinking, reflecting on an issue

  9. critical: finding fault

  10. choleric: hot-tempered, easily angered

  11. contemptuous: showing or feeling that something is worthless or lacks respect

  12. caustic: intense use of sarcasm; stinging, biting

  13. conventional: lacking spontaneity, originality, and individuality

  14. disdainful: scornful

  15. didactic: author attempts to educate or instruct the reader

  16. derisive: ridiculing, mocking

  17. earnest: intense, a sincere state of mind

  18. erudite: learned, polished, scholarly

  19. fanciful: using the imagination

  20. forthright: directly frank without hesitation

  21. gloomy: darkness, sadness, rejection

  22. haughty: proud and vain to the point of arrogance

  23. indignant: marked by anger aroused by injustice

  24. intimate: very familiar

  25. judgmental: authoritative and often having critical opinions

  26. jovial: happy

  27. lyrical: expressing a poet’s inner feelings; emotional; full of images; song-like

  28. matter-of-fact: accepting of conditions; not fanciful or emotional

  29. mocking: treating with contempt or ridicule

  30. morose: gloomy, sullen, surly, despondent

  31. malicious: purposely hurtful

  32. objective: an unbiased view-able to leave personal judgments aside

  33. optimistic: hopeful, cheerful

  34. obsequious: polite and obedient in order to gain something

  35. patronizing: air of condescension

  36. pessimistic: seeing the worst side of things; no hope

  37. quizzical: odd, eccentric, amusing

  38. ribald: offensive in speech or gesture

  39. reverent: treating a subject with honor and respect

  40. ridiculing: slightly contemptuous banter; making fun of

  41. reflective: illustrating innermost thoughts and emotions

  42. sarcastic: sneering, caustic

  43. sardonic: scornfully and bitterly sarcastic

  44. satiric: ridiculing to show weakness in order to make a point, teach

  45. sincere: without deceit or pretense; genuine

  46. solemn: deeply earnest, tending toward sad reflection

  47. sanguineous: optimistic, cheerful

  48. whimsical: odd, strange, fantastic; fun


Assuming you read all that, here's the basic idea that so many people miss:


How you say your words needs to match the meaning of your words.


It's that simple. That's all vocal tone is.


Think of it this way:


Let's say someone in the next room is listening through the wall.


They can't hear your exact words, but they can hear the way you're speaking.


Based on that alone, they should be able to guess at the meaning of your words.


That's the power of tone...


...and that's how you know you're doing it right.


Vocal Tonalities

I don't think you'd be convinced if I wrote this:


My public speaking book is... the best?


And yet...


...that's how so many people talk.


With something called "question tonality," or "raising tonality."


It just makes me so mad (I'm an understanding person... I promise).


Here's what I think when I hear question tonality in a speech:


Are you ASKING ME? Or are you TELLING ME? Or... are you TRYING to tell me, but SOUNDING like you're asking me?


If you use question tonality, that's what your audience will be thinking too. And they might not even realize why they're thinking that.


But I'll know why:

Question tonality.


I won't tell you exactly what to do instead (I've already given so much away), but I will tell you exactly what not to do:


End a sentence with your pitch higher than where it started.

You're welcome. I just saved you a lot of pain.


Vocal Modulation

My favorite. My absolute favorite.


I don't know this for sure, but vocal modulation has MASSIVE impacts on how convincing you are.


Well, I pretty much do know it for sure. It worked for me (all of the techniques in this book did). But I'm going to be doing scientific research soon enough to prove it.


Here's my thesis:


There are vocal patterns that are particularly powerful.


I already know there are some (I uncover them in the book), but I bet there are hundreds more. I can't wait to find them all. When I do (through scientific research), they will be posted on this site.


I'm going to pull back the curtain and give you this section from the book:

"Voice modulation is made up of three main things: volume, pitch, and pace. An experienced public speaker will periodically shift these qualities as they proceed through their speech, making for an interesting, varied listening experience. They will pay special attention to varying their vocal modulation in order to avoid developing a repetitive verbal pattern. Over the course of different sentences, or even within a single sentence, maybe they will speak louder, at a higher pitch, and slightly faster than they previously were. Providing this vocal variance to your audience will make them much more interested in what you have to say as you are saying it. Here’s a diagram of a well-modulated voice speaking three sentences on the top of the next page.


At this point, it quite frankly might seem confusing, pointless, and too complex. However, there’s a method to the madness. Before I break down exactly why that diagram looks like it does, let me say this: you don’t have to be that strategic. Less organized vocal variance is still enough to prevent your voice from becoming monotonous. The vocal calculations I’m going to get into is not always necessary, although it is useful. Let’s say that the three sentences are:


  1. “Climate change is a pressing problem that demands a solution from us now.”

  2. “I’m often asked how bad can it really get; let me tell you right now that it can get very, very bad.”

  3. “These natural disasters that have been ruining lives across the country are just a taste of what climate change can do to us.”


Here’s exactly how the climatologist is modulating their voice for each sentence:


  1. Volume is constant, pitch goes down towards the end of the sentence, and pace is constant.

  2. Volume is constant and then goes up sharply, pitch first goes up then goes down in breaking rapport tonality, and pace   remains constant before dropping rapidly.

  3. Volume increases throughout, pitch goes down in breaking rapport tonality, and pace increases throughout.


Let’s examine the purpose of each sentence:


  1. A straightforward, relatively calm statement.

  2. A frequent question and then the expert answer.

  3. A much more emotionally charged and intense statement than the first.


Now, by putting it all together, we can see the method to the madness:


  1. “Climate change is a pressing problem that demands a solution from us now"; a fairly objective, level-headed statement of what the expert believes; volume and pace remain constant while pitch goes down at the end of the sentence to achieve breaking rapport tonality.

  2. “I’m often asked how bad can it really get; let me tell you right now that it can get very, very bad"; a question, and then the dire answer; volume and pace remain constant during the question portion of the sentence, while pitch goes up to signal that it is a rhetorical question and achieve question tonality. After the question is posed, volume goes up and pace slows down to accomplish two things: firstly, it breaks out of the question paradigm and into the answer paradigm, and secondly, it places emphasis on the answer to the question. Pitch goes down during the answer to, once again, achieve breaking rapport tonality.

  3. “These natural disasters that have been ruining lives across the country are just a taste of what climate change can do to us"; a very human, emotional, and intense statement of how climate change is threatening our lives; volume goes up and pace speeds up throughout to increase the intensity and emotion of the delivery, while pitch goes down to achieve breaking rapport tonality.


Understandably, this is very difficult to achieve at first, but over time it will become second nature. Start small, and work your way towards naturally modulating your voice with highly sophisticated purpose and strategy. It can be done, and it can even be done naturally. It can become second nature. Until then, however, do what is often just as effective: vary your voice in an easier and less organized way. It doesn’t always have to be modulated as purposefully as that example, but it must be varied. The example of those three sentences was just a glimpse of how complex it can really be: how pitch, volume, and pace can be modulated to create different effects on an audience.


When varying your elements of vocal modulation (pitch, volume, and pace), be careful not to do so too quickly. For example, don’t modulate your voice in the pattern in the diagram on the top of the next page.


You shouldn’t modulate your voice in this way because too many frequent “ups” and “downs” makes you sound “shaky.” Indeed, even “shaky” vocal modulation is better than no vocal modulation, but avoid sounding shaky by modulating your voice in a more smooth, controlled way, like so:


The “shaky” example suffered from too many variations packed into one sentence. Make sure when you modulate your voice, that you keep it controlled. Make it like the smooth, gentle flowing of a river, not like a rollercoaster."



Vocal Exercises

Verbal Patterns

Have trouble sleeping?


If you do, I have a solution.


I promise, it works 9 out of 10 times:


Listen to a speaker with a constant verbal pattern.


You know the type. I don't need to describe it. Just know it involves the word "stuffy."


These speakers have a pitch, volume, and pace combination that they love so much, they never change it.


Apparently, they love it more than giving an engaging speech...


...because verbal patterns kill engaging speech.


There's something else to keep in mind:


If your sentences have variation within them, that's great. But if all sentences have the same variation within, then you have a verbal pattern between sentences.


Each sentence should have a distinct variation within. But also between.


Unless, of course, you like a sleeping audience.

Use of Voice Conclusion

From the book:


"In this section, you learned a few key subtleties about public speaking. They might seem obscure to you now, but through practice they will become second nature. One of the greatest pleasures of becoming an experienced public speaker and mastering the art is noticing yourself using some of these techniques without even trying to. You will effortlessly use breaking rapport tonality, vary your voice, and emphasize just the right words. The combination will be thrilling to receive as an audience member, but also thrilling to perform as a speaker. Study the principles in this section many times. The use of your voice is another third of the toolbox you have for constructing a public speaking triad. Own your voice: it is unique, special, and powerful. Use it to its fullest potential."

Other Chapters

Your natural voice is awesome.


I mean it.


Do you have a foreign accent? It's an awesome accent. It's satisfying to listen to (especially if it's a British accent).


Do you have a lisp? Nobody cares.


Do you have a high-pitched voice? It cuts through the air and everyone can hear you.


Every single voice is unique, special, and awesome in its own way. Yours too.


I for one grew up with a speech impediment (part of it is still with me). My voice is now very deep. Someone once told me it sounds like a deep rumble that nobody can understand (except the judges who made me Massachusetts Speech and Debate League State Champion, I guess).


Here's why I'm telling you this:


Your voice is what it is. You cannot change it.


And here's why else:


Your voice is unique to you. And what is unique to you can be a superpower. You can't change your voice, but you can make it more of what it already is.


Here's how:


Vocal excercises. For me, I use them pre-speech to make my already deep voice deeper. You'd think I'd try to make it higher. Nah. Go all in on what you were born with and don't look back.


Here's part of the vocal exercise routine I use. There are ten parts to it in the book. I'm giving you five of them right now.


I use them to make my voice deeper, but what they do is give you more control over your voice. It's up to you how you use that.


From the book:


"1 - Hum with high pitch (1 minute)


This exercise will warm up the upper vocal pitches which will enable you to speak with pitch variety. You should feel vibrations in your upper throat while performing this exercise.


2 - Hum with medium pitch (1 minute)


This exercise will warm up the throat muscles used for your neutral voice pitch; not too deep nor too high. It will help your voice develop a more rich, smooth, and full quality. You should feel vibrations in the middle of your throat while performing this exercise.


3 - Hum low (1 minute)


This exercise will warm up the muscles used to produce deeper vocal pitches, and allow you to deliberately lower your voice with greater ease and to a lower depth. You should feel vibrations in your lower throat and even chest when performing this exercise.


4 - Combined pitch hums (1 minute)


This exercise will help you deliver smoother tone variances. After performing this exercise, you will be able to modulate your voice much more effectively. To do this exercise, jump from pitch to pitch while humming, as smoothly as possible. This will loosen up all of the muscles in your throat and help you maintain effortless tone variation.


5 - Blow air through lips / flap lips (1 minute)


This exercise warms up your lips for articulation. It looks strange, but they should be flapping loudly."


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