The voice has become more important than ever. Business is pushing forward over phone calls and Zoom, where professionals can no longer rely on handshakes and full body language to connect.
This is where Melanie Espeland, a leader in executive voice coaching, steps in. Founder and CEO of Espeland Enterprises, she empowers clients from companies such as IBM and Morgan Stanley to improve their literal and figurative voices. She combines two unique skill sets: a prestigious business background including an MBA from Columbia University; and extensive voice training including a voice acting contract with CESD Talent.
Through Melanie’s unique background, she’s able to help professionals build their unique voice, communication, and executive presence for the boardroom. “There are a few tactical things you can do to immediately improve your voice, presence, and gravitas for those awkward 20 person Zoom calls,” says Espeland.
Some of her key tips include:
1) Tongue placement: Many English speakers place their tongues in the middle of the mouth, which can create a muffled effect. Speaking with your tongue in a forward placement will allow for a crisper sound that will project further and carry gravitas.
2) Breath: Melanie advises that clients think of breath as fuel for the fire, the fire being your voice. If you aren’t getting deep breaths from your diaphragm, your voice won’t be as strong, and may sound strained, high pitched, and/or lack resonance. To learn more about how to breathe from your diaphragm, you can check out Espeland Enterprises’ new book Seduce by Breath, available for pre-order.
3) USB microphone: For less than $100, you can beat the harsh sounds of your built-in laptop microphone. Melanie recommends the Snowball microphone available at major retailers like Target and Amazon.
4) Chin placement: When conducting video calls, make sure your chin is parallel to the floor and your screen is eye level. If your chin is pointed upward or downward, you negatively affect breath and thus affect your voice. This can cause a muffled sound or strained vocal cords at worst.
5) Say what you’re thinking: When you are speaking there are two conversations taking place: one is physically coming out of your mouth and the other is the internal dialogue you have with yourself. Your audience can “hear” both. A quick fix is to say your target internal dialogue out loud, in order to change your mindset and your brain chemistry. For instance, try saying, “I’m an excellent and warm public speaker, and I’m excited for this presentation!”