The one trait that distinguishes a good speaking voice from a so-so voice is resonance, and that makes it one of your most crucial speaking skills, but unless you’re a singer with formal training, you probably know very little about resonance, let alone how to cultivate it. So, we’re going to change that today. The term resonance comes up in many subjects; physics, engineering, electronics, music, but as it relates to speaking skills, resonance refers to how the sound of your voice vibrates in the bones and cavities of your body, and the location and extent of those vibrations.
Resonance helps you amplify your voice and give it fullness and richness. So, if your voice is too soft, or if your voice is nasal, if you sound like a kid, or even if you’re mumbling, then you need to start working on resonance. There are two other primary speaking skills required for cultivating resonance; relaxation and breathing. Breathing is important because breath is the power that generates the vibrations of your voice in the first place. Also, the in-breath tends to open up more space in your body, and resonance loves more space. Relaxation is important because tension kills sound vibrations, like throwing the blanket over a bell. Tension also tends to contract your body so you end up with less space. You’ll never feel resonance in any part of your body that isn’t first relaxed and breathing.
Let’s do a little experiment to feel the effects of resonance. Place one hand on your chest, breathe deeply, close your eyes and sigh out waaaaaaaaaaaaaay. Can you feel sound vibrations in your chest? Place two fingers on your lips, breathe deeply, close your eyes and sigh out, mmmmmmmmmmmmm. Can you feel sound vibrations on your lips? With a little bit of practice, you can feel sound vibrations in your skull, your sides, in your back, even in your fingers and your feet. There’s no part of your body that doesn’t potentially vibrate in sympathy with the sound of your voice. I like to think of resonance as speaking with your whole body and that makes it one of your most valuable speaking skills.
When your whole body is vibrating with sound, there’s a good chance you’re speaking with your whole voice, but most people have very little sound vibration in their body when they talk. They’ve grown accustomed to using only a small part of their voice. If you’re speaking with only part of your voice, then your listeners are getting only part of you, and that has huge consequences for your ability to engage others and make an impact.
Good speaking skills should help you engage yourself fully and make yourself fully available to your listeners. Every fiber of your being should be invested in making powerful connections and having maximum impact, and that has to do beyond the words you’re saying. Resonance is the most practical way I know to engage yourself fully and ultimately to engage your listeners. Speaking with your whole body gets you closer to communicating with your whole being, and that is the most compelling experience you have to offer your listeners.
For more information and exercises to enhance your speaking skills, click the link below and download the free booklet and video series, The Sound of Success.