Speech evaluations

Voice Modulation – Evaluating emotional elements

Voice modulation plays a vital role in elevating the quality and standard of any speech. A good public speaker has a wide gamut of Voice Modulation tools in his arsenal to deploy in different situations. These tools are widely classified as the 5Ps –Pitch, Pace, Pause, Projection, and Personality.

We are not learning any of these.

Let’s admit it. The fact that you are reading this implies you are at a beginner’s level, on your path to excel as a Toastmaster. Taking a deep dive right now into the technical aspects of all Ps of Voice modulation can be overwhelming. The ideal way is to take the slow lane and learn them as you progress.

However, evaluating prepared speeches of fellow Toastmasters is a task you will undertake early in Toastmasters. And Voice Modulation is a major element in this evaluation. Just as you have started to learn some of the elements of Voice Modulation, so have your fellow club members. Therefore, informing them about their progress in this aspect is crucial.

In this blog, we will understand the essential things to look for in Voice Modulation.

Evaluating the voice modulation in a speech
Evaluating the Voice Modulation in a speech

The best way to evaluate the voice modulation aspect in any speech is to identify emotions in the speech and check if supporting voice modulations were used by the speaker to express these emotions effectively. Let us understand by taking some emotions as examples.

Happiness – When narrating a happy experience, ideally a speaker should increase his/her pace a little (i.e. increase the number of words spoken per minute). This should be accompanied by a change in pitch to reflect happiness and a smile on the face. Do you feel the speaker expressed this emotion fairly? If yes, commend him by referencing the exact moment where he did so. If not, recommend him by giving a demonstration.

Excitement – When narrating an exciting event or story, a speaker should dramatically increase his/her pace so that the audience experiences the excitement in the story. Imagine a car chase event being narrated at a speed of 100 words per second VS 200 words per second. Which of the two do you think would bring about the excitement of a car chase better? The best way to identify this is to question yourself if you felt the excitement.

 Sadness – Sadness is best reflected by a slow pace. When narrating a sad experience, the speaker should decrease his/her pace and tone. This should be accompanied by a sad face. Imagine the sad emoji in your messaging app here.

There are several other emotions – anger, pain, pride, suspense etc. And each of these emotions can be reflected through a change in the pace and pitch. As the Speech Evaluator, study if the speaker could bring about these emotions in his speech successfully by changing the pace and pitch. Commend or Recommend accordingly.

Another major element to look for in Voice Modulation is the use of Pause.  Pause can be used in different situations for different purposes. It can be used to express sadness and pain. It can be used in a humorous speech to afford the audience the opportunity to laugh. (There is no point of moving on to the next joke while your audience is still laughing at the previous one.) Pause can also be used to build suspense or in a speech with excess information, to give the audience the time to absorb this information. Identify if the speech delivered had suspense, humor or data and check for relevant pauses. Commend or Recommend accordingly.

There is one another element you may look for.

Change of voice. Any story often involves multiple characters. There can be kids, elderly or a person of the opposite sex. In an exchange of dialogs between these characters, check if the speaker has made an attempt to change his or her voice to portray the different characters. If you find the speaker has done so, commend by referencing the exact moment. If not, recommend with a demonstration.

 As we mentioned, Voice Modulation is a vast chapter. We have discussed the very basics here that would help an evaluator at beginners level to level up his or her game. The limitation of blog as a medium is a barrier to making this more effective. So if you are looking for a deep dive into Voice Modulation, get in touch with your VP Education and request for a training session on the same.


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