Professional Speaking: Improving Speech Clarity in Zoom

Angela ChungResourcesLeave a Comment

professional with headset speaking

Improve your professional speaking and set yourself up for communication success in Zoom (or other video conferencing software).

First, invest in a headset so your speech sounds clear and professional

Though they get the job done, built-in microphones found in tablets and laptops are usually not great quality. When sound comes out of your computer’s speakers, your microphone cuts your audio so you don’t make noise for other participants. If you have a headset, your microphone will pick up the sound of your voice, even while someone else is talking.

I use a headset built by Sennheiser, a reputable audio company.

It’s possible that higher end tablets and laptops will have better microphones than those cheap earphones you got off eBay. Buy a headset with a built-in microphone or a good external microphone so the full frequency range of your voice is heard.

Did you know, if your microphone cannot detect high frequency sounds well, it’s difficult to distinguish between ‘F’, ‘TH’, and ‘S’? That’s why we use ‘Alpha Beta Charlie Delta…”, radiotelephone spelling alphabets, to help us spell over the phone. If your microphone is good enough, you won’t need to do this!

Second, modify your speech to enhance your speech clarity

Internet connection, and audio quality could be weak either on your end, or their end. Technical difficulties can cause people to miss milliseconds to seconds of your speech. Try the following to ensure your message is heard.

  • Speak slower by slightly stretching the vowels in words rather than adding long pauses between words. This gives your microphone more time to detect and process sound, and also compensate for occasional drops in internet quality. When you add long pauses between words, it can be hard to tell which words are part of which sentence. Then, you end up interrupting the intonation of speech that helps to convey meaning.
    • For example, “Noo, Iii doon’t aagreee” will be much easier to understand than “No. — I. — Don’t. — Agree.
  • Hyperarticulate your speech. Mumbling compounded with poor audio quality will make it ridiculously hard to decipher a message!
  • Speak in full sentences. Even if technical issues make it so the first part of your message wasn’t heard, people can still know what you mean based on the contents of the second part of your message.
    • For example, instead of saying ‘no’ —> “No, we shouldn’t implement this feature.”
  • Use more facial expressions and body language. This allows participants to understand more of your message by taking in all available information.
    • For example, if you are expressing your agreement with a suggestion, nod your head and smile as you speak.

Beyond video call specific strategies for increasing your clarity of speech, click here to find a short list of speaking habits you may want to get rid of to improve your professional communication.

What do you do to make sure you’re heard?

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