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Speaking in a mask is back (assuming it ever left for you). And, just like that, we are having more in-person conversations wearing them, especially indoors. The only problem is we have forgotten our best practices for speaking clearly while wearing them.
So here is a quick tutorial on how to navigate clear and authoritative speaking in the masked state.
We see you before we hear you
When you are wearing a mask, your full body language is suddenly much more important than microexpressions in the face. You will present better if you think about your alignment and posture. It also doesn’t hurt to appear more engaged and connected to the conversation by keeping your physical presentation open.
Your breathing is more important than ever
Plenty of people breathe oddly while masked especially in KN95 or N95 masks where you feel the resistance of the protection. The issue is that humans read breathing in other humans to see where the interaction is safe, among other things. Making sure you take slower and more intentional breaths will not only make mask-wearing more pleasant but will also help you create a receptive environment for your words.
Become a diction superstar
Beginning and ending consonants bring clarity to any conversation but where there is a multi-layer barrier between you and the room, they are essential. Focusing on clear articulation of language is more important to understanding than trying to create volume as you speak in a mask.
Slow it down
This brings us to another important aspect of speaking in a mask. Cadence. Slowing down your speech (especially for good diction) helps everyone focus on what has been said. Even more important is the space in between your statements. Many sounds become clearer in relation to silence so be sure to set up important statements with plenty of air space.
This one is the easiest thing to understand and the hardest to remember. Your expressions and emotional context express themselves in the tone of your voice. We can hear when someone is smiling even when we can’t see it. But it isn’t just smiling, we can hear your expressions in the tone of your voice all of the time so consider if your expression is congruent with what you intend.
I hope this was helpful as we see masks making a comeback. Be safe out there.
Gina Razón is the Founder and CEO at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service verbal communication studio in Boston’s Back Bay. She has over two decades of experience as a teacher of voice and speech, is a communication and change facilitator, and is a voraciously curious voice user. Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as a professional public speaker. For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit www.growvoice.com.