Want to sound stronger, more authoritative, more in command? Turn to the nuances of delivery to help you reach your goal.
1. Breathe from your belly.
Start working on your voice by working on your breathing—when you improve it, you reduce tension and vocal strain while supplying your voice with the air it needs to be resonant and rich.
When you inhale, your belly should expand—your chest and shoulders shouldn't move. As you exhale, tighten your stomach muscles to help your diaphragm push the air out of your lungs and into your bloodstream.
2. Expend more air per word.
You’ll then breathe more frequently and will thus take in more air to support the vocal qualities of pitch, tone, and volume. And as you add breaths you add pauses, enabling you to better manage cadence and rhythm. Use a focused pause before and after a statement, especially at the end to let its meaning sink in.
3. Maintain a strong volume overall.
You will need to vary your volume throughout a presentation—lowering it for certain revelations will cause the audience to lean in and hang on your words, for example. Raising it can emphasize a point. Use such variations to prevent your voice from falling into monotony and to enable you to stress parts of your message. But most of the time, keep your volume robust and easily audible.
4. Make statements rather than asking questions.
Although an occasional rhetorical question can effectively highlight a particular concern, most of your presentation should consist of declarative statements that further your purpose.
5. End statements with a downturn in pitch but an increase in volume.
Lower tones carry more force than higher ones; pairing a lower tone with higher volume serves to emphasize the stated point.
6. Project confidence and conviction (but not arrogance) through your physical presence.
Manage eye focus and body language in ways that increase audience engagement and support your credibility.
7. Take care to select the right words and phrases.
Avoid weasel words, expressions of doubt, and clichés, all of which can obscure your message and thus reduce the audience’s measure of your authority. Use appropriate diction and, as much as possible, vivid language. Especially when discussing abstract concerns, construct concrete examples, illustrations, and descriptions to help listeners readily understand the meaning you attach to those concerns.
8. Early in your presentation, include a strong statement of your thesis/major message.
Don’t make your audience wait until the presentation’s conclusion to hear your major message. State it early and then return to it as you discuss its key points. Listeners will understand more clearly and quickly how the parts fit together when they know in advance where you’re going.
9. Use sentence structure to enhance listener understanding.
Parallel construction of key points helps an audience recognize their importance and aids it in integrating those points into the whole of your presentation. Create parallel structure of key points by using the same grammatical form or pattern of words for each.
In addition, stylish repetition of key sentences, phrases, or themes adds emphasis, boosts recall, and sounds commanding.
10. Consistently demonstrate knowledge of opposing views and command of your data.
Know where your audience’s views may differ from your own so that you can acknowledge those differences in the arguments you craft. As much as you can, seek common ground with your listeners—understanding flourishes best there.
Know your data well, both for your presentation and for any questions that follow. While it’s certainly acceptable to use notes during all parts of your presentation, become especially comfortable with the data that support the most important parts of your major message.
Incorporating these tips, rehearse your way into greater authority. You’ll feel it, and your listeners will hear it.