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Good Verbal Communication

Good verbal communication is essential in delivering effective presentations, and one of the most important tools at your disposal is your voice. Your voice can imply anxiety, aggression, boredom or humor. If it's audible, interesting, understandable and pleasant to listen to, it can really engage your audience. But what constitutes a good voice? Short of taking voice training lessons, what can you do to evaluate your own voice and improve it, if necessary? The best tip I can give is to record yourself reading some text.
good verba communication

Recording your voice

  1. Select about five minutes worth of text, preferably something you are familiar with such as part of a presentation you have, or plan to give.
  2. Start the recording, take a deep breath and start reading.
  3. Keep your voice natural and conversational. Don't rush.
  4. Don't be over dramatic (you're not a Shakespearian actor). But do try to read with feeling, and pronounce each word properly.

Using PowerPoint to record narration
If your computer has a microphone (and most laptops have a built-in microphone), you can use PowerPoint to record your voice while going through your presentation slides. In PowerPoint, on the Slide Show menu, select Record narration. Try experimenting with this before you record your narration as it sometimes takes a bit of trial and error to get it right.

Analyzing the recording
It's now time to analyze your own voice for good verbal communication. When you listen to the recording you'll probably discover imperfections you weren't aware of. Listen out for sloppy pronunciation, dropped endings, tempo, and pitch or inflection problems.

Sloppy pronunciation

Common problems are:

  • Dropping the 'g' at the end of words. Such as, goin' instead of going, or doin' instead of doing.
  • Not pronouncing the 't' in the middle of words such as tweny instead of twenty.
  • Skipping the 't' after an 'n'. For example "I don' know" instead of "I don't know", or "I wan na" in stead of "I want to"
Dropped endings Does your voice fade at the end of sentences? If it does, pause and breathe. Learn to use pauses effectively. You can overcome breathlessness and fading by breathing from your abdomen instead of your throat.
Tempo Are you talking too fast or slow? Ideally it should vary appropriately with what is being said.
Inflection problems Inflection is the variation in the pitch of your voice. Upward inflection is often used when asking a question. Downward inflection suggests certainty. Monotone inflection (where the voice neither goes up or down) is dull to listen to. (You can easily identify this problem when your audience start dropping off to sleep :-).

Good verbal communication begins not with what you are saying but how you say it. Being aware of your voice and how to use it well can go a long way in making your presentations engaging and enjoyable to listen to.


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Good Verbal Communication


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