Speaking in front of a huge crowd is not easy. It requires tons of confidence and preparation to pull off an excellent performance. But remember that this does not require you to go at it at a hundred percent all the time. You don't have to be always too loud or energetic. You can also be soft-spoken.
Being soft-spoken is not a weakness if you use it strategically. You do not have to be the loudest person in the room as long as you communicate with your audience well. Using the right words, pauses, and perfect timing to express your message complements being soft-spoken advantageously.
If you want to know more about how to put this to good use, this article is for you. This contains the necessary information to better understand what being soft-spoken means, from its advantages and disadvantages, to the ways it improves your communication skills.
Is being soft-spoken a weakness?
No. Being soft spoken is far from being a weakness. It can even be your strength if you use it properly as it makes communication simple and direct. However, adding variation to your voice can make your presentation more impactful.
You might have heard of the advice that the way to speak with authority is by speaking loudly. As much as this is true, one’s volume is not the only factor to consider. You must be able to strategize when to use loud and soft voices.
Perfect timing, right words, and pauses should not be overlooked. These can further enhance the skill of being soft-spoken. Of course, you would not want your audience to get disengaged by using a monotone and loud voice.
For example, you can use a soft voice if you are explaining terms that are unknown to your audience. This should be accompanied by using simple language while timing and pacing yourself.
What does it mean to have a soft-spoken voice?
As much as a soft-spoken voice translates into sounding gentle, this also means projecting a more focused, intelligent, and approachable tone to your audience. Being soft-spoken doesn't always mean boring and monotonous.
Soft-spoken presenters tend to appear more composed and focused compared to others who use their voices in full volume. Being soft-spoken is a good indication that you are prepared enough to deliver your presentation.
Intelligent speakers are strategic. They do not sustain loud and monotonous voices as it can be too tiring. Thus, soft-spoken presenters know when to shine. They pay attention to reading the room if it is the timing to shift and modulate voice tones, apart from emphasizing the main presentation points.
Additionally, you would want to become an approachable speaker. Soft-spoken speakers do not present themselves to be intimidating. This is key to creating a rapport with the audience. If your tone is soft and cool, rest assured that they will listen to you.
What causes someone to be soft-spoken?
Many factors influence a speaker to be soft-spoken. These must be understood to better assess how they can be used to one’s advantage.
Being soft-spoken is already natural to them since childhood. How people grow up always affects how they become in life. Sometimes, they are very difficult to unlearn. Being soft-spoken should not be forgotten, though.
Simplicity is the topmost priority of soft-spoken presenters. To deliver a direct presentation, being soft-spoken is an advantage. They do not have to use pretentious words and loud, irritating tones to stand out. As long as they are understandable to the audience, they remain simplistic and straightforward.
Being soft-spoken is an integral part of their strategy when presenting. The ability to shift tones and modulate one’s voice shows intelligence. Emphasizing a point may be done by using a loud and clear voice, whereas explaining what it is about suits a softer one.
Being soft-spoken is an indication of shyness. As much as you can use it to your benefit, having a soft voice the whole time can also break your presentation. This may be because of having fear of facing a large crowd and being too conscious, among others. If one of these comes into play every time, there is a need to overcome it.
Advantages of Being Soft-Spoken
To reiterate, being soft-spoken can always be used to your benefit. With a proper strategy, rest assured that you will be able to attract more and more of the audience to listen and pay attention to you. Here are the following advantages:
Soft-spoken speakers appear to be approachable to the audience. This develops a good rapport that encourages them to listen to you intently. Intimidation is not a problem because the softness of your voice can make them feel comfortable and at ease. Thus, this results in a better connection between you.
They think carefully before they speak which translates into using the right words. Critical thinking is a good communication skill to be practiced. Since soft-spoken presenters take their time when speaking, more often than not, the words coming out of their mouths are well-thought-out and professionally appropriate.
Proper pacing and taking pauses when a soft-spoken presenter speaks result in a well-organized presentation. Of course, as a speaker, you would not want to sound too fast and strong, leading to intimidation. Making sure that the audience follows what you are saying is a consideration for a soft-spoken presenter.
Maturity is associated with soft-spoken speakers. Being composed is a sign of maturity. It means that preparation has been done before going onto the stage, and identifying the perfect timing when to use a soft voice is right.
The audience allows themselves to relay to you their feedback without intimidation. Because of the developed rapport, communication is made easier. Being soft-spoken can be translated into the openness to receive valuable feedback from the audience and the readiness to listen to them.
Disadvantages of Being Soft-Spoken
Undoubtedly, you would want to engage your audience in your presentation. But communicating with the use of a soft voice only cannot give you what you want. As much as being soft-spoken is advantageous, if not strategically utilized, it can ruin your presentation.
Pay attention to the disadvantages of being soft-spoken so that you can avoid them.
Getting the attention of the audience is extra challenging. At the beginning of a presentation, it is a major task to immediately engage the audience. Being too soft-spoken might not get this job done as it may bore them more than catching their attention.
Being soft-spoken throughout the presentation might make people assume you are lazy and unprepared. This can disinterest the audience to remember your main points. It is very important to change the tone of your voice, signifying emphasis and transition. Give them something to look forward to!
The audience might think you are very shy if you maintain being soft-spoken for a long time. Whether or not you feel shy and anxious about your presentation, as a speaker, you must fake it until you make it. Do not let the audience feel your shyness through your voice. It may put all of the preparation you did to waste.
Some may underestimate your presentation skills once they hear your soft voice. For example, if you are presenting in front of a hostile audience, they might not listen to you anymore because there is no sense of authority present in your voice. Remember that being soft-spoken should translate into smooth communication, not underestimation.
There is a chance being soft-spoken might not facilitate a healthy discussion and exchange. It is your task as a speaker to stimulate the minds of your audience. A soft voice might not do this, especially if it registers lifelessly to their ears.
How can a soft-spoken person sound more confident?
A remarkable public speaker must exhibit confidence through voice. Although being soft-spoken is a strength already, there are still ways to improve it to avoid the disadvantages it may cause. Remember that confidence and being soft-spoken complement each other.
Start with a happy introduction. This does not mean pouring all your energy into the beginning of the presentation. Make the audience feel welcome by greeting them happily or holding an icebreaker activity instead. This is to stimulate their minds and get their attention effectively before going into the proper discussion.
Being confident can be shown through your posture and attire, too. To avoid mistaking being soft-spoken for laziness, please the eyes of the audience to tell them firsthand that you are prepared to communicate with them. By this, your soft voice may come across as your strategic way to present.
Apart from preparing the content of your presentation, do not forget to warm up your voice. A well-modulated voice is always ideal when speaking, regardless of whether you are soft-spoken or not. You may do some vocal drills and exercises minutes before going onto the stage. This is good preparation to not sound shy and lazy.
Drink a glass of water before your presentation. Your throat needs to be hydrated. This might be a practice that others overlook, but this does not only quench your thirst but also prepares your voice to sound sharp and clear. Soft-spoken speakers need this even more than those with loud voices.
Conduct a dry run of your presentation days before the actual performance. Pay special attention to how you sound. Assess whether or not being soft-spoken is effective to communicate your message to your audience. Letting some people listen to you might be helpful as well.
Can a soft-spoken person be a leader?
Yes. A soft-spoken person can be an excellent leader. In fact, if a leader is soft-spoken, he can better communicate to the group or community he's leading. People would also be more open to a soft-spoken leader as they feel that their opinions will be valued more.
Soft-spoken leaders know how to listen. Even though they command the group, they have open ears to understand the perspectives of others, not just theirs. Their soft voices are encouraging them enough to take part and get involved.
Speaking of getting involved, they also let everyone express what they have in mind. This indicates that they value all of the voices in their team, regardless of position. All are welcome to be active in thinking and speaking.
Lastly, they provide a safe and healthy space for communication. Being soft-spoken can motivate everyone to collaborate harmoniously through effective communication. This not only hones them to become great leaders but also cultivates a good team as a whole.
Is soft-spoken the same as shy?
Although some soft-spoken people tend to be shy, it is a mistake to automatically equate being soft-spoken with shyness. For example, there can be presenters who speak calmly using a soft voice. However, this does not mean that they are already shy. Confidence can still be expressed when speaking softly.
How can I make my voice not too soft?
You can warm up your voice by doing vocal modulation exercises. These are done to condition your voice before doing the actual presentation. This can result in a sharper register of voice to the audience.
Is being soft-spoken a good quality?
Yes, being soft-spoken is a good quality of a great speaker. Strategizing it into good use could mean many things. It could signify that you are composed, prepared, and calm. These could engage the audience to listen to what you are saying.
Key Takeaways: Being Soft-Spoken as a Weakness
Being soft-spoken today no longer means weakness and shyness. It is now considered a strength that a speaker must utilize to hold a great presentation. If strategically incorporated, it can lead to better communication between you and your audience.
Like any other strength, being soft-spoken can be improved so it won't be a disadvantage. Boosting the confidence of soft-spoken speakers is an incredible way to balance out the gentleness in their voice.
Now that you know that being soft-spoken is a special communication skill, go ahead and use it to your advantage!
For more resources to develop your public speaking skills while you are in the comforts of your own home, please check out the article ‘Online Resources for Public Speaking‘. If you would like to leverage the best presentation software for your next big speaking engagement please read the article 'Best Presentation Technology tools'.