March 25, 2012

Be Cautious With Vocal Variety

by Promod Sharma, President 2011-2012

If you talk in a monotone or any predictable way, you’ll bore your audience. We want variety.

Vocal variety makes your speaking more engaging but there's a limit. When you're evaluated, you may be told that you're not using enough variety. Speech 6 in your Competent Communicator manual requires you to use vocal variety. The experience may be uncomfortable.

The level of vocal variety you require depends on the type of speaking you do. Toastmasters may mislead you. If you go to speech contests, some speakers are like performers. They are entertaining, humorous and dramatic. That approach may not suit your content or audiences.

Vocal Variety

You don't want to be too extreme in your variety. That's manipulative and annoying. You can use simple techniques. Pausing is very effective. Shouting may startle your audience. You may look manipulative or out of control. Whispering is tricky. Unless you're using a microphone, some audience members may not hear you. You can vary the speed at which you talk.

The effect of vocal variety is easiest to experience with a video. Notice how other gestures and movement reinforces the messages.

Professional Speakers

Outside Toastmasters, notice how professional speakers use vocal variety. Some barely do but they are rarely boring. They capture our attention because of their popularity/celebrity or their topic. Would more vocal variety really help them?


You would probably benefit from more vocal variety. How much? Practice to find out. You might want to add gestures and movement at the same time.

Focus on having great content first. The vocal variety comes next and in moderation. With practice, you’ll add variety subtly. Your audience will benefit without even noticing.


Promod Sharma has worked on adding vocal variety. In the past, he had a tendency to sound pleasant but monotonous |

No comments:

Post a Comment