Haris Ahmed, from Chicago, is the is the founder of Pragmatium Consulting Group, Inc., a consulting company that gives public relations seminars to managers and executives. Haris Ahmed says more Chicago companies could improve their national and global influence if they only invest in proper PR techniques, and believes that public speaking is an art that must be reclaimed and rekindled in Chicago’s entrepreneurs and CEOs. Today, he gives tips for harnessing one’s voice to become a better public speaker.
One would expect that the best public speakers are those who have booming voices, a posture that commands attention, and a good speechwriting crew behind them. While not everyone can hire a speechwriter, they can always improve on the two other aspects of their public speaking, especially their own voices. Here are some ways to make your voice sound more convincing.
A person can exercise his/her own voice just like he/she would spend hours in a gym to get into shape. After all, the tongue and mouth are also composed of muscles. In fact, the tongue is one of the most-used muscles in the human body. Haris Ahmed, suggests that Chicago speakers memorize a poem, such as Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago,” a tribute to one of America’s greatest cities. Beginning with lines that list the city’s industrial strengths (Hog Butcher for the World/Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat), it builds up a natural cadence that, when recited long enough and often enough, helps develop pride and strength in any true Chicagoan’s voice.
Eating and drinking properly are not exactly associated with public speaking, but it’s actually easy to tell if a speaker is running on an empty tank. Before a long speech, says Haris Ahmed, a Chicago speaker should load up on proteins to maintain one’s mental awareness and physical strength. Right before speaking, one should just eat a light meal to get some much-needed energy. Drinking water just below room temperature will keep one’s throat moist and maintain the tone of voice needed to sound convincing. Warm water with honey and lemon juice is also good for warding off a sore throat.
Right Tempo and Pauses.
It’s an established fact that the faster one speaks, the less one’s audience is likely to understand him/her. This is more pronounced in the Midwest, says Haris Ahmed; Chicago natives are more inclined to listen to someone who speaks deliberately and pronounces his/her words more clearly. In fact, the Northeastern way of speaking, which tends to be faster and higher-pitched than others, decreases the impact of a speech. A good speaker speaks in a moderate tempo, take care to modulate his/her pitch, and says things confidently. It is also important to insert pauses at strategic points during the speech. This has two effects: First, it makes the speaker sound less like a robot or someone reading out of a script. Second, it emphasizes certain parts that the speaker wants the audience to remember. Tempo and pauses, if used properly, can help transform an average speech into something that leaves a lasting impact.