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Whether you are speaking in public in front of a large audience or just need to record your voicemail, there are some simple things you can do to sound more confident.

microphone in front of audience

Smile when you talk

It doesn’t matter if no one can see you, put a smile on your face. The person listening can “hear” your smile. This is especially important over the phone. Anyone who’s had a job in telemarketing before can tell you that talking with a smile definitely helps. This will make you sound friendlier and less monotone. Try it now. Go ahead.

Make yourself bigger

Use sweeping arm and hand gestures. Take up more room than you normally do. Studies have proven that people who assume a “dominant” or “big” stature are perceived as more confident. If you are recording a commercial or something where you are the “authority,” try taking up more room behind the mic. You will be surprised at how much more confident you will feel, and this feeling will be reflected in your voice. This applies not only to voice over, but to asking for a raise, meeting with an important client, and more. Check out this awesome TED Talk for more on this fascinating subject:

Speak more slowly

People tend to speak fast when they are nervous. I hear this happening with voice actors who are asked to do a recording session in-studio with clients. They sound great on the audition they recorded in their home studio alone, but in a studio with other people watching/directing, it can make it a bit more nerve wracking. You will sound more confident and convey your message more effectively if you purposely speak a bit slower than normal. This will also ensure your audience has time to digest the information. I know this isn’t always possible with a commercial read as clients love to cram as many words as possible into those things (180 words is max for a :60!! I can’t speak any faster!), but for presentations and training materials, this is key to sounding like you know what you’re talking about.

Breathe

Proper breathing is so important to making your voice sound confident. You can hear it in someone’s voice when they run out of breath. It makes the voice crack, sound thinner, and higher. Read through the script several times and pick out where the natural pauses should be and mark them. This will remind your brain to pause and breathe. It’s important to pick where they should naturally fall. Strangely placed breaths and pauses are very distracting and will make you sound less confident. For some excellent breathing techniques and vocal warmups that help not only voice over artists, but anyone who has to speak publicly, check out our course, “Preparing to Record Your Voice” at Voice123 Academy.

Eliminate upward inflections

Avoid raising the tone of your voice at the end of your sentences. This will make it sound like you are questioning yourself. Unless it is an actual question, don’t phrase it like one! When you are recording a voice over, this can make it have a “sing song” sound that does not sound natural and can actually be annoying to your listener.

Also, many people “trail off” at the end of their sentences, meaning they get quieter and start speaking faster at the end of a thought. This could be due to improper breathing technique, but I think it’s just how we naturally converse with others. Your microphone will not be talking back to you (if it does, that’s called a feedback loop and you should get that checked out!), so it doesn’t need you to trail off. In fact, when you play the audio back, you might realize your mic didn’t pick up some subtle sounds at the end of your sentences. Be conscious of maintaining the same volume, but varying intonations all the way through your script.

Playback some of your audio and really listen to how you end your statements. Is each sentence sounding exactly like the one before it? You may need to enlist someone else to listen for it as you may not catch it yourself. I recommend posting to our Feedback Forum to get a second opinion.

Bonus Tip for Public Speaking

Eliminate your verbal “crutches”

When I worked in radio, my program director and consultants would constantly remind me and all the other on-air talents to get rid of the “crutches,” those phrases that you say when you are seguing into another topic. It could be something like “you know?” or “that being said” or more than likely it’s stuff like “uhhh,” “ummm”, “well”, “so”, etc. that will make you sound hesitant instead of confident. Do your best to always eliminate these from your speeches.

 What are your tips for sounding confident on the mic?

photo credit: BenRogersWPG via photopin cc