Verbal Communication Online

Learning Objectives

Describe the adjustments you need to make to your verbal communication when speaking online.

Microphone and computer

Even if you feel like you’re talking to yourself when you speak online, remember that you’re there to connect with an audience!

Do you like to listen to podcasts or audio books? If so think about the way a speaker or reader’s voice helps to keep your attention and interest in what you are hearing. People who make a living using their voices to communicate, whether it be in podcasting, radio, voice over work, etc., know that having a voice that is interesting to listen to both helps them keep their audience’s attention and communicate more effectively.

Elsewhere in this class we have discussed vocal variety (also called vocal variation), the idea that it is important when speaking to an audience for a speaker to vary aspects of his or her voice, such as rate, volume, and pitch. This variation will help a speaker sound more conversational and it will also help hold the audience’s attention.

When you speak online, your voice is crucial to keeping your audience engaged. When you’re speaking into your webcam, particularly if you’re explaining something on the screen (such as a slide deck), it can be easy to speak too fast or to slip into a monotone delivery. After all, without the cue of a live audience in front of us, it’s easy to forget to enunciate, use pauses, and vary vocal pitch. Don’t be fooled! Just because you might feel like you’re talking to yourself, don’t forget that there is an audience waiting to hear what you’ll say.

The University of Melbourne has developed some tips to help students succeed when speaking online. When it comes to verbal communication, students are encouraged to do the following:

  • Vary the pace of your speaking. It is better to speak a little slower than you usually would rather than faster that you usually would.
  • Pause occasionally. Use short, half-second stops between phrases to help the audience keep up with you.
  • Vary your tone of voice to keep the attention of your audience. Vary your tone more than you generally do in daily conversation and stress key words for emphasis.[1]

Additionally, the University of Melbourne also suggests you practice by recording yourself doing your presentation and then watch it to get a sense of your voice.

  1. Presenting Online. The University of Melbourne.