Seven confidence steps for speaking online
Just over a year ago, I launched Vocals in Business – a vocal training arm to my events agency.
In my role as a conference producer, I’ve always used my professional theatre training to help senior leaders stand on-stage with confidence and optimise their spoken word. So it seemed a natural evolution to create a series of courses and workshops designed to help anyone and everyone to communicate more effectively, by improving vocal and breathing techniques and body language to inspire and influence a live audience for maximum impact.
A consequence of the coronavirus crisis has seen us move away from live to online, so the need to be heard through a purely vocal performance is now an even more vital tool in the communications toolbox.
The curtain may be temporarily down on the physical stage but the show must go on as we attempt to get our messages across in daily Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams meetings.
And it’s exhausting right? Our brains need to work harder during a video call to consciously process non-verbal cues like facial expressions and tone-of-voice.
All those faces staring directly back at you from the computer screen doesn’t help either. Whilst the intensity of seeing all our own facial expressions played out on the screen in front of us can build insecurity and fear for how we’re perceived by others. And that’s even before you’ve begun to speak or present.
Vocals in Business is currently helping the employees of several well-known corporations to build confidence in speaking online so that they can get their ideas and contributions heard.
Take a look at the below tips and see where you could benefit from improvements in vocal techniques. And if you’d like to chat about how to get your company’s message across more effectively, get in touch for a no-cost, no-obligation chat.
Virtual meeting vocal tips
- Be aware of your posture and the positioning of your screen. Looking down will most likely result in hunched shoulders and a rounded spine so look up to your screen for a straighter back and raised neck and chin. It provides a more natural vocal projection when we speak up and out.
- Don’t forget to breathe. Taking a deep breath in and exhaling through the mouth is a simple way to let the breath fall to the abdomen, calming us down in the process. Theatre breathing exercises control nerves and give us better control over the pitch and strength of the voice. Just don’t be doing them with your camera and sound turned on!
- Raise your energy levels. You may have less time to make a positive impression. Learning how to increase and maintain energy and focus is vital for online presenting and speaking. The energy you resonate rubs off onto your virtual audience so you’ll need ways to stay upbeat over a sustained period of time.
- Eradicate the umm and errs. Vocal ticks and unnecessary pause-fillers all sound louder and more pronounced in an online environment. Controlling the pace of what you say and articulating how you say it will get rid of all those troublesome umm and errs for a more confident delivery.
- Be present in the room. Before you even connect, make sure you’re ‘in the zone’.
Block out distractions such as email or social media notifications. If it’s your first meeting of the day, you may not have even spoken out loud. Make sure you’re hydrated and give your voice a few warm-up exercises. It can be something as simple as singing along to a favourite song or learned techniques used by the stars of the stage and screen.
- Maintain virtual meeting etiquette. Inspiring confidence in others will reflect back on you. So make a point of letting attendees know you’re in control by informing them that you won’t be going over the allotted meeting time, there will be time for questions at the end of the presentation, you’ll be sticking to the agenda you sent them earlier, and that you’re recording the session incase anyone needs to refer back. This will help you set the scene for a more confident performance.
- Finally, remember – a smile goes a long way. If you’re naturally smiling then your voice sounds more upbeat. You’ll often notice that the people around you will smile too. So spread a little happiness when you present.