Below are four simple vocal tools and tricks to help you come across more authentic and personable in your vlogs or presentations. Everybody is going live these days. But, most vloggers never studied acting, let alone for the camera. The tools below offer a scientific approach to acting and voice training. It is all about the having control over your voice!
The four tips below are tools that will help you convey your message. What do you want your audience to do, think, or feel? Do you want then to click the subscribe button? Do you want them to visit your website? Or do you simply want them buy or learn something? The goals you choose will determine how you use the tools below.
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One: Play with how the vowels sound
I mean that literally. Emotion lives in a word’s vowels. The audience will be able to tell your emotional state by the way you stress them. In the theater, we say, “kick the consonants and make love to the vowels.” In other words, you can give your words more meaning by over-pronouncing the consonants, giving them an extra kick. This also helps to create better diction. “Making love to the vowels” means adding a bit of musicality to the way they sound.
Let’s take the statement “Oh, that’s right.” This statement can have totally different meanings depending on how you stress the vowels. For example, if you were to stress the open O sound in the word “oh” by holding it out a little longer than you usually would, the statement may come off more sarcastic. Subsequently, it could also sound more like a discovery, like you just figured something out. Alternatively, if you were to add extra emphasis to the I sound in “right,” (think of Tony the Tiger from the Frosted Snowflakes cereal commercials) then you may come off as more agreeable and enthusiastic.
Listen to the way he says “arouse.” You can hear the subtle excitement. And when he says, “I’ve got nooooo defence for it,” you can tell he doesn’t really want a defence for it. He is happy to give in to that wicked witchcraft!
TWO: Playing with inflection
Inflection is what happens to the pitch at the end of a word or phrase. Typically, we Americans favor downward inflections. The pitch goes down, as does the volume. Downward inflections typically indicate the end of a sentence or thought. When we ask a question, there is an upward inflection.
Let’s go back to our sentence, “Oh, that’s right.” First, say it as a statement, with a downward inflection, and then say it again as if you were asking a question, with an upward inflection.
Phrasing a statement as a question is a great way to make people think you do not know what you are talk about. Tell me if you’ve ever witnessed this scenario: You are sitting a college class, philosophy for example, and the professor asks “How did Socratés die?” You raise your hand and answer, “hemlock,” but, you used and upward inflection. The professor then says, “Are you asking me or telling me?”
Another example of upward inflection is the way children speak. Everything they say has an upward inflection. They will tell you a story and at the end of each sentence they will go up as if all punctuation were a comma.
Here is a video to illustrate this point:
THREE: Playing with intonation
Unlike inflection, which only refers to the changing of pitch at the end of a thought, intonation is changing pitch levels mid-thought. When giving a speech, it will be far more interesting for your listeners to hear different pitch levels while you are speaking. Try this:
Speak the phrase below in a monotone voice (monotone is speaking every word at the same pitch level). You should sound like a robot.
“Really, I did not know that”
Now, speak it again, but this time, say the words “really” and “know” at a higher pitch level and everything else at a lower pitch level.
Did that feel weird? If so, then you are doing it right! Sometimes, we have to do what feels unnatural with our voices in order to find what feels natural. Now, try speaking the same phrase using different pitch levels for different words. It may sound as though you are singing. In fact, one very helpful acting exercise is to sing your entire speech. After a while, the changing of pitch levels will commit to muscle memory. When you go to deliver the speech, the musicality of it will come more naturally.
FOUR: Play with volume
Volume is a great way of stressing a point. Some people, like myself, are just loud. Lowering your volume in certain spots will make those moments sound more important. People tend to listen more when you get quiet. They know it’s serious. Or, just the opposite, you could sound more excited! Think of it like telling a friend some very exciting news in the middle of a library.
There are many other tools and tips pertaining to a performer’s voice. These four will help get you started with making your videos and presentations more dynamic. Remember, first determine what you want your audience to do, think or feel. What is the core of your message? Then, decide how these vocal tools will help you to better communicate that message.
If you found this post helpful, please shoot me an email or leave a comment. I would love to hear your questions!
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