Here is God’s answer to Moses – in his lack of eloquence - trembling at the prospect of confronting the all-powerful Pharaoh of Egypt.
But your voice, too - like your finger-print - is your unique God-given trademark! School teachers, telephone receptionists, shop-keepers, barristers, till-operators, university lecturers, sports commentators, hospital nursing staff, car salesmen, preachers, newscasters, and neighbours ... how are you coming across?
Your own voice is worth working on! When facing a class, a business seminar, a charity’s annual meeting – or reading the Scriptures in church - how well can someone at the very back clearly hear you?
To start with: ‘Ignore the mike!’ Keep within nine inches of it – and then let go … addressing yourself to the very back of the room. We can always test a trusted friend in the back row afterwards: “How well could you hear me?"
Most of the power from a well-projected voice comes - not from the upper diaphragm - but from the bottom of your lungs; from what feels like ‘the tummy.’ Peter Westland suggests this as a useful exercise:
‘Get down on your hands and knees and pant like a dog … Pant quickly but evenly. You will notice it is difficult, while on your hands and knees, to breathe into your chest. This exercise more or less forces you to breathe abdominally’ (Teach Yourself Public Speaking; EUP, London).
Now learn to do it while you are standing – so increasing the flow of exhaled air passing across the vocal chords. This greatly increases the depth, control and steadiness of the voice.
FINALLY A FEW TIPS ON PRESENTATION! Some cameos to avoid! ...
THE DRONE: Um. It’s all on one note, and I – sitting in my hard-backed chair - am being sent elsewhere, into my own day-dreams; Oh, my poor back ...
THE MOO: Y-yes - it’s soothing, but completely unmodulated - and presented with a ‘rounded’ voice with about as much edge to it as a poached egg. I’m falling
THE WHINE: Nothing, in this drizzle of depression, is ever ‘right’ with the world, the government or the church: Moan, moan, moan ...
THE BARK: It’s ‘powerful’ all right, but, with this shouting, it seems to think that it’s in charge of the Trooping of the Colour. It’s getting boring, with this unchanging
THE GALLOP: Ideas, words and thoughts jostle for inclusion in this helter-skelter of a talk. Some of the things said are magnificent, but they are given no space amid the non-stop torrent of gobbled, half-finished words. The mind of the speaker races ahead of the sentence - which is barely ended before the next thought rushes in like an express train … or like Old MacDonald’s Farm: ‘Here a thought. there a thought, everywhere a thought-thought.’
My goodness, if anyone ever improved, it was Moses! Look at his farewell speech to Israel:
“Listen O heavens, and I will speak! Hear O earth the words of my mouth! Let my teaching fall like rain, and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants!” (Deuteronomy 32: 1-2)