Great Speakers Use Acting Skills

public speaking using acting skills

*THE VOICE and the Speaker

One of my clients, was just introduced to her diaphgram last week and now understands the power of a confident, enthusiastic, and the supported voice. 

There is a difference between what we think is the right “SPEAKING VOICE” and the friendly, energetic,  and connected voice you need to communicate to an audience.

I am so aware if  speakers using their “SPEAKING VOICE”.  It is disconnected from their bodies and their  feelings and it ends up sounding monotone.  I just turn off when that drone starts.

Every time I coach someone who has this disconnected SPEAKING voice, I ask them what they had for breakfast.  They tell me in their normal voice.  Then I tell them that’s the voice I want them to use.  At first they don’t understand but eventually with some work they get to see how talking like  you do to a friend is more authentic, available and trustworthy.  When that happens people want to listen to you.  They trust you and your message.

Another pet peeve of mine is inarticulate speech.  People slur their words together or never fully speak the full word itself.  I suggest slowing down.  This is a common problem and an easy fix if you just practice slowing down.  As for the slur, well try tongue twisters and over articulate to the hilt.  Have those lips moving and that tongue (an important muscle for your speech) over working.  (See my blog TONGUE TWISTERS for Actors and Speakers). You can surf the net for many other choices.  Just be consistent in practicing every day.  And please give each word it’s full value and say the WHOLE word. The best way to practice is my saying ONE WORD AT A TIME.

Another turn off is the aforementioned monotone.  Most people in their daily lives speak in a monotone.  After all it’s safe – you aren’t offending anyone by being neutral.  You also aren’t engaging anyone in an authentic and engaging way.   The solution?  Again practice a number of exercises daily that deal with power, pace, and pitch. 

The  FOLLOWING EXERCISE is used by speakers and actors but I want to attach a WARNING – These are best done first with a vocal coach as you could hurt that delicate instrument,  your vocal chords, if you don’t support it with the proper breathing necessary.

Find one phrase or sentence that you know well – happy birthday to you is fine. Now for

PITCH  1) start with a low voice and slowly move into a very high voice and back down again, 

for POWER   2) start with a very quite voice and slowly move int a very loud one and down again

and for PACE 3) start with a very slow speech and slowly move into a very fast and back to slow again. 

SPEAK ON THE BREATH –  that means take a breath and then speak on that breath.  Don’t take a breath, let it out and speak.  You’ll hurt yourself.

Again without the proper breath support you could do yourself damage so get the proper instruction from a vocal coach.   And then practice daily.

And last, but maybe most important.  I find a  large number of my clients speak quitely giving  off very low energy.  That makes them sound unenthusiastic, timid and lost. 

A prime component to being someone worth listening to is your enthusiasm and confidence.  Your passion is what sparks my passion and I want to hear you.  So heighten the energy.   Fill the room with your energy.  This does not mean shouting and hurting your voice.  It means finding your optimal speaking voice and using it fully.  The optimal speaking voice is the bottom of a yawn – with AHHH being said at the top of the yawn.

A FINAL note.  All of these exercises are about energy moving outward.  The inner work of connecting to images, phrases, purposes, audience, and being present are just as important.  

Don’t allow yourself to pull back, be quiet, shut down because fear creeps in.  Focus back out on the audience and feed them your energy.

Barbara Kite is an executive speaking and professiional acting coach, director and actress in Portland Oregon.


June 18, 2009 - Posted by | acting skills, presentations, Public Speaking

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