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Whether you speak in meetings or in front of an audience, teach classes or give speeches in courtrooms, voice projection is important. Using your voice well makes it easy for your audience to hear and understand you and makes any speech or presentation more powerful. 

Whatever type of work you’re in, your ability to project your voice and be easily heard throughout a room and in noisy environments is pivotal to your professional image. It’s also essential if you want to communicate your thoughts and ideas clearly. 

Here’s what you need to know about this essential skill and how it can benefit you in almost any career path.

voice projection

What is Voice Projection? 

Obviously, voice projection will allow your audience to hear and understand you more easily. It will help build your confidence as a speaker, give you a natural authority, and help you hold attention. But it isn’t as simple as just shouting or straining your voice to be louder. 

There are 3 parts to the human voice. The vocal folds produce the sound, the breath powers the sound, and the bones and spaces of your body amplify the sound. All of these components must work together correctly for vocal projection. 

Vocal projection training is common in fields like acting and singing. A projected voice is loud and clear. It seems to carry effortlessly while still conveying the essential message of the speaker. 

However, if you don’t project your voice in the correct way, you could: 

  • Strain your voice
  • Make your throat dry, sore, and scratchy
  • Feel voice fatigue afterwards 
  • Create tension in your muscles which can actually diminish your voice
  • Sound false and feel as though you are over doing your presentation. 

This is why it’s so essential to understand how to use voice projection properly if you do any speaking in your career or personal life. 

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Jenny is a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist, in Brisbane, with a special interest in voice.

The Anatomy of Voice Projection

If you want to increase the volume of your voice, then you need to learn to speak using your voice efficiently. While the sound of your voice comes from the muscles in and around the voice box, these are very small muscles.  If you overuse them to talk loudly or shout, you can strain them or even cause long-term damage. 

For voice projection, you need larger muscles to provide power and control the flow of air past the vocal folds. The muscles in your abdomen, diaphragm, and the intercostals (the muscles between your ribs), are much stronger than those in your larynx (voice box). These are the muscles that are involved in breathing and they make space for the lungs to expand when you breathe in. These large muscles can help you project your voice without straining or causing damage to your vocal folds. 

You can actually feel the strength of this strategy for yourself. Put your hand on your belly and breathe in so that it rises. This may take a little effort if you’re used to chest breathing. Breathe out from the same place. If you talk at the same time, your voice will be louder and stronger than normal. 

Doing this while you’re comfortable is easy. But it’s different when you’re in front of a crowd and focused on what you’re saying. This is when nervousness brings on any bad vocal habits you have and will make you return to ineffective breathing patterns and ‘pushing’ from the larynx.  This puts you at risk of voice strain.

Creating Your Unique Voice Tone 

The volume of your voice isn’t the only or the most important part of voice projection. The skills you learn through vocal projection will teach you to use your voice more effectively in several ways. This will allow you to create your own unique tone using the following techniques: 

Resonance

With vocal resonance, the sound bounces off the walls of the oral and nasal cavities.  This creates layers of sound for a richer and more intense voice without straining.  By doing voice projection exercises and training with a vocal coach, you can learn to create vocal resonance. 

Activating the Aryepiglottic Sphincter (AES) 

This isn’t what it sounds like! The AES are two muscles that sit on top of the vocal folds. By deliberately activating them, you can change the shape of your vocal tract to create what’s known as twang. Twang makes your voice stronger and brighter. This is the sound that you hear in babies’ cries when they’re hungry or want comfort and it can be incredibly powerful in adults too.  Using twang does not have to sound nasal but it does create intense volume

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Jenny is a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist, in Brisbane, with a special interest in voice.

Can Voice Projection Exercises Help? 

You can improve your voice projection ability with specific exercises and training. These voice projection exercises combine breath work, resonance, and control of the AES to teach you good habits that can be carried over into your presentations. 

These are fairly advanced techniques that require an experienced person to teach you and provide feedback on how you sound. A speech pathologist can teach you to undo bad vocal habits and muscle tensions that weaken your voice. They will help you to use your breath, muscles, vocal folds and articulators to produce and project a strong and confident sound. 

If you rely on your voice, then the best way to master these skills is with the help of an experienced speech pathologist. 

The Takeaway 

Obviously, the easiest way to project your voice is to use a microphone or other type of amplification. This will help protect your vocal folds and save you a lot of energy. But using a microphone isn’t always possible. 

If you need to speak in groups or noisy environments as part of your job or hobby, then you need help. An experienced vocal coach will be able to train you in voice projection so you can connect with your audience with easy, resonant, and compelling communication.