Toastmasters Speech 6: Vocal Variety

Read the following emphasizing on the highlighted words only.

I hate cats. (but i like dogs)

I hate cats. (I insist on my dogs)

I hate cats. (but my brother likes them)

By now you have probably got the hint of power of vocal variety. If a simple sentence can have so many different meaning only by changing the word to be emphasized upon, it is impossible to ignore the effect it could have on an entire speech.

Project 6 of Toastmaster encourages you to use vocal variety to sound rich and attractive to the audience.


The main aim of this project is to use voice variances to reflect your thought. You need to balance the four Ps-

  •       Pitch
  •       Pace
  •       Power
  •       Pauses

Evaluation Criteria

a) Topic Selection and Organization

The select topic must be appropriate to use plenty of vocal variety. Organize your speech in a manner to meet the purpose.

b) 4ps

Were you too loud or too soft? Were you screeching? Did you use pitches to convey feeling? Were you rushing with the speech? Were you boringly slow? Did you try to finish the speech in a breath? Were the pauses appropriate?

There are the scales along which you will be evaluated for the speech.   

c) Your oratory skills

Your speech should be expressive, not merely by body movements and facial expressions, but vocally. The more feelings and emotions you are able to associate to the speech with the use of vocal variety, the more you will be appreciated for your speech.

d) Body language

Your body language must vary along with your voice. The body language should support the emotion of the speech.

Tips and Techniques

a) Breathing practice

Breathing fast is not helpful in getting control over your voice. You will miss out on important pauses. You will also rush with the speech and you will be screeching. Practice breathing all the way into the abdomen rather than just chest. Control breathing will help you gain steadiness of voice.

b) Prepare your speech

Deliberately design your speech with pauses and stresses. Use words whose pronunciations can be played with. Break-free of the notes. Look up straight to the crowd and confidently communicate.

c) Rehearse your speech

You cannot expect to walk up to the stage and give perfect pauses, stresses and pace in the first trial. Rehearse your speech. Find out where it is necessary and where it is not.

d) Places to use pause

“(p)” signifies “pause”

  • After a word when we leave a gap before uttering another word or at the end of a short sentence.
  1. Henry,(P) what are you doing? (p)
  • After a subordinate clause and after a main clause
  1. If you get the first rank (p) I’ll give you a prize. (p)
  • Before a conjunction
  1. Do it now (p) or you will regret later. (p)
  • Before a question tag
  1. She writes beautifully, (p) doesn’t she? (p)
  • At the end of quotation marks
  1. “Joe!” (p) she shouted at her husband. (p) “the truck is on fire!” (p)

What will you benefit?

This project will be beneficial in understanding the importance of vocal variety. You will learn how to:

  1.     Maintain the pace of the speed
  2.     Recognize the sections that need to be emphasized on
  3.     Use pitches to convey various emotions
  4.     Use appropriate pauses

Sample Speeches