If you’ve ever been in a social situation where you feel like nobody can hear what you’re trying to say over the loud conversation happening in the background, you know how annoying it can feel.
Especially if you’re someone who has a naturally quiet voice, getting yourself heard can be quite a difficult feat to achieve. You know how especially futile the “just speak louder, then!” sounds, especially when it’s coming from someone who can project their voice across a football field.
Add having to deliver a speech to the mix and things become even more complicated. The last thing you want to hear after getting through a taxing speech is for someone to tell you that they couldn’t make out half of it.
While it’s true that the pitch of your voice is genetically determined, if you’re someone who’s biologically blessed with a voice that makes other people frequently demand you to speak louder, don’t be disheartened. There are a few things that you can do to amplify your voice–no matter how mellow it is. Stick till the end of this article to discover what they are!
Why is my voice not loud enough?
The thing is, there’s not just one single reason why some people having soft voices, while others can project their voices loud enough for two people. Rather, the pitch of your voice is determined by a variety of factors, all of which interact with each other in complex ways to produce the natural volume of your voice.
Some of these factors are:
That’s how you naturally sound
The main culprit behind a softer voice is how you’re built i.e your genetics. Just like everybody is born with a different color of hair or shape of eyes, so does the capacity and size of your larynx and vocal cord differ.
Moreover, some people might simply lack the lung capacity to have a loud voice, as their smaller lung size might not be able to generate as much airflow as someone with bigger lungs.
Your personality is another factor that determines how loud or soft you speak. Generally, in normal social situations, outspoken people tend to speak louder and have more commanding voices, while introverts tend to speak softly and quietly.
This difference translates to the stage as well. Extroverts generally tend to command and thrive in the focus derived from being the center of attention, while the stage generally has exactly the opposite effect on introverts. This makes the latter even more withdrawn, making them appear quieter than they already are.
Culture & Environmental Factors
The specific cultural environment that you grow up in has an equally important effect on the pitch of your voice as the above two factors. Some cultures encourage people to speak out their thoughts, while others might frown upon the same practice.
For example, studies have shown that Asians and Europeans tend to speak at a lower volume than North Americans. Moreover, the volume of your speech conveys different meanings across different cultures.
To illustrate, British English speakers use loudness to portray anger, while Indian English speakers use the same to command your attention.
Besides this, specific environmental factors also play a role in determining your voice pitch. For example, if you’re angry or nervous, the larynx constricts involuntarily, leading you to produce a higher and more unstable pitch.
However, no matter the cause behind the softness of your voice, there are a number of exercises that you can carry out in order to enhance the volume of your voice. Through the use of breathing techniques, voice relaxation, and volume exercises, besides addressing underlying issues and even by taking up a singing class, one can significantly improve their vocal capacity!
9 Exercises For Speaking Louder
1. Anxiety-Specific Exercises To Make Your Talk Louder
People with social anxiety tend to speak extremely softly, often causing other people to overlook them during conversations. This can make the person feel invisible–which, depending on the situation, can feel either like a blessing or a curse (or maybe even a combination of both). Social Anxiety is often overlooked, and people afflicted with it are frequently ridiculed or even scorned for their behavior.
The situation gets even tougher when a person with social anxiety is faced with a seemingly impossible task: having to speak in front of a group of people. To protect themselves, they might speak even more softly than they normally do.
For more tips on how to deal with anxiety in public speaking, check out our article on 5 Public Speaking Tips For Introverted Students.
A few exercises that might help you combat anxiety are:
a. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a great technique that combines deep breathing with flexing and then relaxing specific muscle groups, starting either from head to toe or from toe to head. It’s a great, cost-free way to combat anxiety.
b. Counting Exercises
Counting is another great way to ease your anxiety. Whenever you feel anxious before a speech, find a quiet and comfortable place to either stand or sit down. Close your eyes and slowly count to twenty, then count back down till one. Repeat until you feel yourself relaxing.
c. Relaxing By Interrupting Your Anxious Thoughts
Another way to combat anxiety is by interrupting anxious thoughts whenever you feel them swell in your head. There are many ways to do this. They can range from listening to music to learning techniques for refocusing your attention to even meditating for a bit.
2. Posture-Specific Exercises To Make Your Talk Louder
It’s common knowledge that how you carry yourself is a major factor that plays a role in how people perceive you. However, a lesser-known fact is that your posture plays an equally important role in how well you’re able to project your voice i.e how loud you sound.
A weak or incorrect posture might not only give the audience the impression that you’re a weak speaker, but it may also make it more difficult for you to project your voice loudly and more clearly, besides making you feel out of breath and causing voice fatigue.
So what’s the best posture to have while speaking?
The answer: A Tall Posture.
And what’s a tall posture, you ask?
The easiest way to achieve a tall posture is to pretend that you’re standing against a wall to measure your height. Look straight ahead, tuck your chin in and keep your head high. Keep your shoulders back, knees straight and bellies tucked in, and make sure to not slouch your back.
To achieve and maintain a good posture, I’ve listed down some things you can do:
a. Regular Exercises
Incorporating regular exercises into your lifestyle is a great way of naturally correcting your posture. While it’s wise to have a holistic view to exercise, a few posture-specific exercises are high planks, side planks, downward dogs, child’s pose, stretching exercises, etc.
b. Mental Exercises:
The human imagination is one of the most powerful tools in the universe, so why not use it for more mundane tasks, say like improving your posture? Mental exercises for improving your posture are easy, free-of-cost, and time-efficient. One effective imagination exercise to improve your posture is pretending that you’re a puppet! To do so, imagine that there are strings attached to your body, and someone is holding you upright by pulling them taut from above, and keeping your head, back, shoulders, and knees straight.
3. Breathing-Specific Exercises To Make Your Talk Louder
While it’s true that breathing is an unconscious process, it’s also true that while public speaking, most people tend to unconsciously breathe incorrectly. Many people breathe too shallowly while they’re speaking. Others might have prolonged stretches of breaks between breaths in order to rush out as many words as possible before inhaling again.
While maintaining a correct breathing technique might seem trivial in the face of delivering an entire speech, in reality, it’s one of the most important factors that go into the successful delivery of a public talk.
a. Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique
So what’s the best way to breathe while delivering your speech?
The answer: Diaphragmatic breathing.
And what’s that, you ask?
Well, Diaphragmatic breathing, as the name sounds, is deep breathing that’s done by fully engaging the diaphragm, which is a muscle located horizontally between the thoracic cavity and abdominal cavity.
To do this, you must fully employ not only the diaphragm but also your stomach and abdominal muscles. While there are various forms of diaphragmatic breathing, basic diaphragmatic breathing is the simplest form. The steps to practice it are:
- Put a hand over your upper chest, and then the other hand below your ribcage.
- Slowly breathing in through your mouth, taking care not to draw in the breath through your nose.
- As you draw in a breath, allow your stomach to expand forward.
- Pause, and then exhale through your mouth, letting your stomach retract
b. Breathing Relaxation Exercises
As mentioned before, a common culprit of a soft speaking voice is nervousness. So, in order to calm down your nerves, practice breath relaxation techniques before your speech.
A few breathing exercises are:
- Take a deep, slow breath through your nose. Hold your breath till the count of three. Then exhale slowly, progressively relaxing the muscles in your face, shoulders, and stomach.
- Gently inhale air through your nose, taking care to fill only your lower lungs. Then, exhale easily. Continue to do this a couple of times unless you feel calm enough.
- Keep your hands over your abdominals. Slowly breathe in through your nose, feeling your stomach expand as it fills with air. Then, exhale through your mouth, again feeling the sensation of your stomach emptying of air. Repeat this 3-4 times.
4. Speech Slowing Specific Exercises To Make Your Talk Louder
A tell-tale sign of nervousness is speaking too fast. If you feel that’s the case, it might be helpful to deal with them first. The above-mentioned breathing techniques are a good way to deal with anxiety as well as to otherwise control your speaking speech.
On the other hand, if you speak slowly, taking care to enunciate each word, your voice will be suffused with more power, authority, and confidence. You will be able to speak louder, as your focus shifts from trying to speak as much as quickly as possible to focus on each individual word.
However, if you’re someone who has a habit of rushing through or eating your words, speaking slowly is easier said than done. A few techniques to help you are:
a. Monitoring How Fast You speak
Whenever you notice yourself speaking too quickly during a normal conversation or even while you’re delivering a speech, try and pause or at the very least slow down. Take a deep breath, count till 3, then continue speaking.
b. Adding Cues To Your Speech
Another way to slow down your speaking speech and amplify your voice is to add cues into your speech reminding you to take a break or to speak slowly. You can add the cues anywhere: your presentation, a piece of paper, for example.
5. Asking Friends For Help To Make Your Talk Louder!
I know, I know. Speak louder. It’s the most obvious advice to speak louder, isn’t it? And also perhaps the one that you’ve heard most frequently.
However, my goal here isn’t to sound clichéd (or insensitive).
But what I’m asking you to do here is to actually, consciously, practice pitching your voice higher than you normally do.
And while you’re speaking, do frequent mental check-ins with yourself and consciously attempt to raise your voice whenever you feel like you’re talking too quietly.
The easiest and cheapest way to practice raising your voice is by standing in front of a mirror and delivering your speech.
Or even better: To deliver your speech in front of a trusted audience before the big day. Ask your friends or family to hear your speech beforehand and request them to interrupt your speech whenever your voice falls.
You could also ask them to record your speech for future reference. To learn about the benefits of recording your practice speech, check out our article on The Incredible Impact Of Video Recording Yourself While Practicing A Speech.
6. Take Singing Lessons To Make Your Talk Louder!
Just like squats are the unrivaled king (or queen) of leg exercises, so is singing the best exercise for your throat!
I know, I know. Not everyone is born with a natural talent for singing (bathroom singing doesn’t count).
But, News Flash: You don’t necessarily have to be a talented—or even a competent—singer to take singing classes. After all, the entire point of taking a class is to learn something new!
Besides, singing is an amazing way to improve your vocal range, as it is a full-on strength training workout for your throat. And strength training, as you know, is the one-shot way of building a stronger, fitter, and a better body.
You could reach out to a private tutor or even singing classes in your local area. Alternatively, if you don’t have the confidence to sing in front of another person, you could also look up singing lessons through YouTube, or even use an app!
After all, where there is a will, there is a way.
7. Voice Relaxation Specific Exercises To Make Your Talk Louder
A tense voice will not only sound harsh or difficult to the audience, but a tightened throat will also make it difficult for you to employ the full range of your vocal capacity. As mentioned earlier, nervousness causes the larynx to constrict and leads you to produce a higher and more unstable pitch. Not only that, but a relaxed voice sounds more confident and controlled. To do so, you can use the following exercises before stepping on the stage, or even practice them by yourself in the days leading up to it:
a. Throat Massage
A throat massage is a frequently used technique by singers to keep their voices healthy. It can also be a very useful tool for a presentation, as the tone of voice is just as important for a professional speaker.
b. Larynx (Voice Box) Exercises
To do this, place the back of your hand on both sides of your throat, and then using them move your larynx from side to side. Then, hold the larynx to the right and breathe in slowly through your nose a couple of times. Repeat with the left side.
8. Volume-Specific Exercises To Make Your Talk Louder
Another way to speak louder is to directly employ methods to amplify the volume of your voice. There are many exercises that you can follow for this. Some of them are:
- Inhale deeply, pause for a second, before exhaling your breath with a hisssssing sound. Repeat this 8-10 times.
- Another way to practice improving the volume of your voice is by using vowels. Pick a vowel. As you articulate the vowel, start with a soft sound, then move on to a middle-level pitch, before finally amplifying your voice too loud. Repeat it in the opposite way, starting first with the loud sound and then moving onto the soft sound. Repeat it a couple of times, going soft – middle – loud, loud – middle – soft, middle – loud-soft, etc.
- You can also follow the above exercise using a series of numbers. For eg, as you count from 1 – 10, increase your volume until you’re at the number five, before slowly decreasing the volume as you reach the number six through ten. You could also increase and decrease your voice on every alternative number.
9. Warming Up Your Voice To Make Your Talk Louder
Just like warming up before a sporting event is imperative not only to prevent injuries but also to maximize performance, so is warming up before a speech.
Listen, I’m not asking you to do squats and lunges.
Rather, before you step on the stage, try to find a private room or a secluded corner where you feel confident you won’t be disturbed. Once you do that, carry out the following steps:
- Practice your diaphragmatic breathing. Next, practice pitching your voice louder by repeating a few selected paragraphs from your speech. A good idea is to pick parts from your speech during which you feel like the pitch of your voice frequently falls down.
- After you’ve done that, do a quick mental run through your speech and its key points. This will help you prepare yourself mentally for the speech and reduce chances of nervousness, which might cause you to speak too softly.
- Finally, before stepping onto the stage, make sure to take a few good mouthfuls of water so that your throat doesn’t feel dry when you’re speaking—another major culprit behind a mellow or arid voice.
- Last but not the least, right as you step onto the stage, smile!
Tips To Make Your Voice Louder
When we ask you to speak louder, we don’t mean you have to shout. Especially, you don’t need to shout all the time. There’s no need to overdo it. You only need to sound loud enough to be heard, not make people close their ears so that they don’t hear you.
Try Using Your Voice In More Than One Way
One of the best ways to make your voice louder is to diversify the ways in which you employ it. Play around with your voice. Sing when you’re alone. Read play dialogues. It might sound silly, but trust me: it works.
Lower Your Pitch
Many people sound squeaky when they talk too loudly. This is counterproductive, as it will make you look silly. So, keep a lookout on how the pitch of your voice sounds when you try speaking louder than you normally do. If you feel like it’s too high, then try to consciously lower it. You
could also record yourself to get a better idea of how you sound.
Speak From Your Diaphragm
To be able to project your voice as loudly as possible, it is essential to use your diaphragm when you speak. To know where your diaphragm is, see the section on diaphragmatic breathing. Or, place your hand below your chest, and above your abdomen. This is where it is. This is where you need to speak from.
Free Your Body And Voice
To fully command your vocal capacity you need to free your body and your voice. To free and open your body, you need to hold a correct upright posture. You could also use the warmup exercises mentioned above. As for your voice, you need to really focus on pronouncing words with emphasis, speaking from your diaphragm, and breathing properly. Another key factor is to free up your mind. That is, relax.
To conclude, while it’s true that the volume range of your voice is genetically determined, meaning that some people have voices that are naturally softer than others, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a shortcoming. By employing the variety of exercises mentioned above, you can not only increase the pitch of your voice but can also vastly enhance the quality of your public speaking.