How to Define Tone in Public Speaking

Tone is the expression of a mood or emotion. In relationship to your delivery, tone is determined by your topic or your subject. If you are giving the after-dinner speech at a conference, it is quite possible that your talk will be funny; thus, your tone is going to be quite different than if you are giving the eulogy at a funeral.

To understand tone better, try reading the following 2 paragraphs with a hopeful tone in the 1st paragraph and a humorous tone in the 2nd. Recording yourself would be very beneficial because you will hear things from the recording that your inner ear is unable to detect. In addition, be aware of your facial expression. In reading about learning disabilities, your facial expression will be serious, maybe your eyebrows will furrow. On the other hand, in reading the humorous story, you should smile (you may even laugh). You may also notice a lightness in your voice with the 2nd example versus the 1st.

Hopeful

Learning disabilities effects one out of every ten children. With special education, these children, who tend to possess above-average intelligence, can learn given the proper setting and correct teaching approach. Thirty years ago, a child who had difficulty learning was often labeled as stupid. Today, we know better.

Humorous

While on vacation in Jamaica, we were at a pig roast one evening, and the emcee called for some volunteers from the audience to play a game. A man named Bob jumped up. Well-built, handsome, and macho, he reminded me of the type of guy who’s the life of the party or big man on campus. Dressed entirely in island garb complete with straw hat, Bob was informed that he had to crawl through the legs of one of the female volunteers. In doing so, his hat, along with his toupee, became entangled with the netted shawl the woman was wearing. To see that bald head emerging from her legs was one of the funniest moments I can remember. The crowd roared with laughter while poor Bob turned purple with embarrassment.

Did you notice that your tone was different in the above readings? Practicing reading out loud for tone is a very good exercise in learning to distinguish the type of mood you should be using conveying in your presentations or in your speeches. An important part of color, tone is one of the variables which makes your delivery truly interesting to listen to.

Nancy Daniels is a voice specialist and president of Voice Dynamic. Working privately and corporately, she launched Voicing It! in April of 2006, the only video training course on voice improvement and presentation skills. You can watch clips from her DVD on her website, before & after takes of her clients as well as download more information on the speaking voice and the control of nervousness in public speaking. To see what voice training can do for you, visit http://www.voicedynamic.com.

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