Posts Tagged ‘ public speaking ’

Speak up!


I have recently been asked, in two completely different contexts, about how to project the voice.  One query was from someone who has a very, very quiet speaking voice and would quite like to be heard, and the other was from a group of young people about to do a performance.  It struck me that although, in theory, I’m a good person to ask about this, given how often I have to project my voice, it was a very difficult question to answer.  How, exactly, do I project my voice?

I know I was never specifically taught projection techniques of any kind – it was a skill I somehow picked up naturally.  This is a strange thing, because in ‘real’ life, I am often difficult to hear.  I can mumble quite unintentionally and very often have to be asked to repeat what I’ve said.  Yet, put me on a stage and suddenly I can be heard.  Projection also comes in handy when getting users of the Library of Doom to be quiet – sometimes it’s necessary to get a whole roomful of people to turn the volume down.

When I thought about it, I realised that projection has something to do with breathing, something to do with confidence, something to do with psychology and something to do with posture.  The sound has to come from further down, starting deep down inside you rather than in your throat.  There has to be enough air in your lungs to support it.  You have to imagine that you’re speaking or singing directly to someone who is quite far away.  And you absolutely do not have to shout – persistent shouting instead of projecting hurts and would probably ruin the voice if it was tried for too long.

Explaining a process that I don’t entirely understand proved to be a difficult task.  It’s hard to explain how to breathe or how to think yourself into projection.  It made me realise once more how much a mystery performing is to many people.  As well as all the joy of creating a character, and the great conundrum of ‘how do you learn the lines?’, there are a great many technical bits and pieces that evidently aren’t as normal and natural as years of doing them might make them feel.  There’s an art to speaking up and speaking out – now I just need to learn how to apply that art, in a minor way, to conversation.  Speak up, Singing Librarian!

%d bloggers like this: