Print Vocal Features (PDF 153kB, 1 page)
Pace or speed
Not too fast, not too slow. The speed at which you should speak is often based on the audience and you need to judge for yourself in each situation. When you are giving a presentation, it's a good idea to vary your speed. This is something we do naturally depending on what we are talking about and how we feel about it. It is part of what gives speech vitality and interest.
Speaking too loud or too softly can be irritating to your listener and get in the way of communicating your ideas effectively. Judge the right volume for your situation. Take care when giving a presentation. The person sitting at the back of the room should be able to hear you without straining.
Varying your pitch level (that is, how high or low your voice is) can be an effective way of signalling a new topic when giving a presentation. In general, we jump up to a higher pitch level to signal something new or to signal that we are presenting important or major information. We tend to move to a lower pitch to indicate minor or additional information.
The 'sound' of a person's voice, for example, 'smooth', 'harsh', 'abrupt', 'warm', 'cold' or 'tense'. Often called tone of voice, we are all sensitive to it. For example, we can often guess how someone is feeling when we speak to them on the phone, even if they only say the single word 'hello'. There may be something in that person's voice quality that makes you ask, 'What's wrong?' Your listeners are more likely to share your interest in what you are saying if your voice expresses your own interest.