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Vocal Characteristics. Volume Pitch Rate Pauses Vocal Variety Pronunciation Articulation. Volume. Volume is the loudness or softness of the the speaker’s voice. Speak loudly enough to be comfortably heard by everyone in your audience, and no louder. Adjust to the acoustics in the room.

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Vocal Characteristics

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vocal characteristics
Vocal Characteristics
  • Volume
  • Pitch
  • Rate
  • Pauses
  • Vocal Variety
  • Pronunciation
  • Articulation
  • Volume is the loudness or softness of the the speaker’s voice.
  • Speak loudly enough to be comfortably heard by everyone in your audience, and no louder.
  • Adjust to the acoustics in the room.
  • Glance at the people farthest away from you to see if they seem to be hearing you.
  • Pitch is the highness or lowness of the speaker’s voice.
  • Pitch can affect the meaning of words.
  • Changes in pitch (inflections) reveal whether you are asking a question or making a statement; whether you are sincere or sarcastic.
  • Don’t be monotone – with a constant, hypnotic pitch or tone of voice.
  • Rate is the speed at which a person speaks.
  • A faster rate creates feelings of fear, excitement, anger, surprise, or happiness.
  • A slower rate is needed for complex information, or expressing sadness or disgust.
  • Avoid speaking too slowly – your audience will become bored.
  • Avoid speaking too quickly – your audience will lose track of your ideas.
  • Changing rates of speech keep the audience alert and interested in what you are saying.
  • A pause is a momentary break in the vocal delivery of a speech.
  • Pauses used effectively can help signal the end of a thought, give an idea time to sink in, and lend dramatic impact to a statement.
  • Developing a sense of timing takes practice.
vocalized pauses
Vocalized Pauses
  • A vocalized pause occurs when a speaker fills the silence between the words with vocalizations such as “uh,” “er,” and “um.”
  • Vocalized pauses can create a negative reaction toward the speaker if they occur too frequently. Silence is preferable to a vocalized pause.
vocal variety
Vocal Variety
  • Vocal variety refers to changes in a speaker’s rate, pitch, and volume that give the voice variety and expressiveness.
  • Approach a speech as an opportunity to share with your listeners ideas that are important to you. Your sense of conviction helps give your voice that spark it has in spontaneous conversation.
  • Pronunciation refers to the accepted standard of sound and rhythm for words as indicated in a dictionary.
  • Some common mispronunciations:

Common ErrorCorrect

Gen-u-wine Gen-u-win

Thee-ate’-er Thee’-a-ter

Nu-cu-lar Nu-cle-ar

  • Articulation is the physical production of particular speech sounds.
  • Sloppy articulation is the failure to form speech sounds crisply and distinctly.
  • Some common examples:

Ought to Otta

Didn’t Dint

For Fur

Don’t know Dunno

nonverbal characteristics
Nonverbal Characteristics
  • Personal appearance
  • Bodily action
  • Gestures
  • Eye contact
personal appearance
Personal Appearance
  • Listeners see a speaker before they hear the speaker.
  • Dress and grooming should be appropriate for the occasion.
  • Dress and accessories should not distract from the speaker’s message.
  • Dress and grooming should convey the speaker’s seriousness of purpose.
bodily action
Bodily Action
  • Bodily action refers to the stand and presentation before, during, and after the speech.
  • Before – walk confidently, establish eye contact, look confident and poised
  • During – avoid fidgeting, leaning in the lectern, or shifting weight
  • After – let the closing line sink in, remain poised and confident
  • Gestures refer to the speaker’s use of the hands.
  • Gestures should not distract from the message of the speech.
  • Gestures should appear natural and spontaneous.
  • Gestures should be above the waist.
  • Gestures should not be repetitive.
eye contact
Eye Contact
  • Eye contact means looking at each member of the audience.
  • Eye contact conveys truthfulness, intelligence, and feelings.
  • Eye contact establishes a bond with the audience.
  • Eye contact captures attention, establishes credibility, and allows the speaker to see and respond to feedback.