How to Vary Your Volume in Innovative Presentations

By Ray Anthony, Barbara Boyd

Although you must speak loudly enough for everyone to hear you, you should vary your volume to match your intention. Variety of volume as well as speech rate, tone, and pitch, is key to making your presentation easy and enjoyable to listen to.

Even if you possess a room-filling, bone-rattling baritone voice, without variation, it becomes monotonous and monotone. By changing your volume throughout your presentation, you come across as conversational.

Aim to maintain the volume level that projects your voice to the back of the room and then vary between three and six different voice levels — from a whisper to a shout. As a theatrical style technique, many motivational speakers and some highly skilled business presenters selectively speak low enough to whisper.

You’d be amazed how — at the right time, in the right way, for the right reasons — that whisper suddenly grabs hold of an audience’s attention because they are intensely curious and straining to hear what the whisper might be about.

Use volume to emphasize and highlight certain words or terms. When you suddenly increase or decrease your volume, it shocks or alerts your audience to a change that jolts their attention. The rise and fall of your voice indirectly signals differences between major ideas and information and subordinate details that support them.

Raise your volume when you come to important parts of your presentation such as:

  • Benefits of the product, service, program, or project you’re proposing.

  • Key points, main messages, critical facts, statistics, or other information the audience must understand to appreciate the value of your proposal.

  • Recommendations, suggestions, requests, and solutions you offer to the group.

  • Quotations, metaphors, examples, comparisons, and contrasts that support your main points.

  • Specific aspects of a visual, video, or animated part of the presentation.