"Speak up! I can't hear you."
"Could you say that more loudly?"
Have people ever said these phrases to you, not just once or twice, but over and over again in different situations?
You feel like you're speaking loud enough, but other people can't hear you, and then you become even more self-conscious.
Don't give up! There are different techniques that can help you speak more loudly.
Why is my voice so quiet?
There are multiple reasons why your voice might be quieter than other people's. It could be due to:
Genetics — your larynx, or voicebox, could be shaped in a way to produce softer sounds
State of mind — stress, anxiety, and lack of confidence can lower the sound of your voice
Culture — some cultures promote a softer tone of voice as a sign of modesty and respect
Regardless of the reason, there are steps you can take to increase the volume of your voice.
A relaxed mind leads to a louder voice. When you are stressed mentally, your muscles tend to tense up; this can restrict your flow of sound.
So the first thing to do if you want to speak more loudly: relax your mind. You can practice this by learning to breathe properly — that is, breathe from your diaphragm ("belly breathing"), not your throat.
Your voice is produced by the muscles in your throat, which are connected to other muscles in the rest of your body — so incorrect posture can actually affect the quality of your voice.
Make sure when you stand, your ear, shoulder, hips, and ankles form one straight line from the side. Check out this Byte about correcting posture.
Practicing yoga is an excellent way to correct bad posture. You can incorporate a number of poses in your daily routine.
Try these exercises to raise your voice level to the right volume:
Enunciate your words.
Record yourself and listen to how you sound.
Practice in front of others and get feedback.
Sing! Vocal exercises can help you build your voice.
Quiz: Advise Sara
Your soft-spoken close friend Sara, who knows that you give a lot of presentations for work, approaches you and asks you to help her speak more loudly so people can hear her better for her upcoming presentation this Friday.
You've noticed she sounds nervous and has rather closed body language during presentations. She also keeps to herself and hesitates to approach others at the gatherings afterwards. You don't want to overwhelm her with different pieces of advice, so you decide to focus on one thing at a time. You think of several options:
A. Refer her to a therapist to help her work through her social anxiety by teaching her cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.
B. Send her yoga videos to help her with her throat muscles, posture, and confidence.
C. Show her "belly breathing," practice the presentation with her, and show her how to skillfully approach and speak to people.
Which advice will help Sarah immediately?
At the end of the day, a soft, quiet voice isn't a bad thing.
Using these techniques can help you leverage when to raise your voice and when to speak naturally!