Vocal projection is a topic that almost no-one pays attention to who isn’t professionally interested in it. Who cares how we speak, right? And yet the importance of proper vocal projection cannot be overstated. In many ways, our voice is the most important tool we humans have. This is how we express ourselves and how we communicate with one another. This is how we share our thoughts and ideas. It also has a great influence on how we are perceived by our environment and what attributes are associated with us. A great deal of our personality is actually just determined by how powerfully we are able to express it.
Vocal projection, a lost art
But even though our voice is so utterly important, most of us don’t pay any attention to how we use it. Instead we mumble, mutter, murmur and stutter our way through life. We dread presentations, avoid public speaking and shy away from addressing large audiences. We are scared to do what should be natural to us: using our voice to our advantage. Vocal projection is supposed to be a tool for fully expressing ourselves. It should be something to experiment with, to cultivate over time and to continuously better. Much like our muscles, our voice should be trained. Because having a powerful voice is something outstanding and beautiful.
Just listen to Freddie Mercury, who has one of the best vocal projections of all times. See how he effortlessly controls 70.000 people only with his voice:
The damnation of strong vocal projection in our society
So why are there so many vocal projection weaklings? The answer to that goes deeper than just the lack of proper training. It is rather a cultural issue. It is simply not considered polite to speak up. Whether at school or at home, we are all taught from an early age that being loud is rude. Being loud gets your parents angry. Being loud gets you sent out of class. Being loud gets others to shush you. Through this constant negative feedback, we learn to “fit in” by being quiet. So as we grow older, we literally lose the ability to speak up for ourselves. No one wants to be loud anymore, no one wants to stand out. A strong vocal projection increases social pressure and most people want to avoid that.
Unfortunately this makes us fail in situations where we do stand out, where we are under social pressure. We all remember that high school teacher that was barely understandable or the colleague that regularly struggled with presentations. If you are not equipped with the right tools for such moments (aka a strong voice), it doesn’t matter if you have the greatest content in the world. No one will listen.
Ways to improve your vocal projection
Luckily, having a strong voice is a choice. It is up to you to become the powerful speaker that you are meant to be. But if you want to be able to express yourself fully through a powerful voice, there is no way around continuously training it. At the beginning it is certainly helpful to look into how the sound of our voice is produced and how breathing techniques can help you gain stronger vocal projection. Helpful beginner exercises can be found here.
The most important part however is to put yourself in situations where you need to articulate loudly and clearly. I personally like to go to clubs with lots of people and loud music. Try talking to the person next to you without her going “What?!”; get the barkeeper’s attention without waving at him; have a conversation without leaning towards the other person’s ear… the possibilities to practice vocal projection in clubs are endless, which makes it an ideal training ground. You can even sing and scream there without seeming to weird.
Another great way to train your voice is public speaking . This way you will learn how to address large audiences and fully filling the room, both with vocal projection and your general presence. The interplay of your voice, body language, facial expressions and energy will make all the difference when you try to hold people’s attention.
And lastly, try to become more aware to the way you speak in everyday conversations as well. Emphasize your words more, pay attention to your tonality, articulate yourself clearly and be overall louder (laughing loudly is a good way to train that). In the beginning it will feel strange to make these changes, especially if you previously had been someone who had difficulties with vocal projection. People around you will definitely notice. But over time you as well as others will get used to your “new” voice.
Your voice, often taken for granted, is essential for expressing yourself. Without a strong voice you will never be able to unleash your full potential. It should therefore become a habit for you to train to project your voice properly, utilize it and embrace situations that challenge your vocal projection, rather than shy away from those. As your voice grows stronger you grow stronger.
Vocal projection is king!