Voice Analysis – Understanding the report

Having proper and objective feedback is one of the best ways to improve your performance. Virtual Orator offers you a feedback report at the end of your session. It helps you understand how you performed and what’s to work on next.

One of the vital points to a good public speaking performance is your voice qualities. Was it monotone? Was it too loud? Too soft? Did you sound nervous?

Your voice is a powerful tool, and Virtual Orator gives you a hand on how to use it more effectively. Understanding this report is the first step to doing it.

What to avoid in your vocal performance

There are a couple of things you should know before you even start practicing. You need to know what to avoid in order to have a good performance.

According to Alison Griswold, there are seven significant problems when speaking in public. We highlight them for you here, but make sure to check out the full article.

  • Stuttered or repeated words and fillers – filling the silences with hums and likes, or stuttering will make you look insecure.
  • Speaking too quickly – Speeding through your speech is one of the most common ways to show your nervousness.
  • Speaking too quietly – This reaction is rare, but it is very tedious for your audience.
  • Gravelly voice or vocal fry – It happens when you didn’t inhale enough air before speaking, common when you’re trying to talk too fast.
  • Trailing off at the end of phrases
  • Uptalk, or phrasing statements as questions – you’ll look unsure of what you’re saying.
  • Speaking in a monotone voice

Virtual Orator’s report

Now that you know what to look for, it is time to look at Virtual Orator’s Voice Analysis feedback. Keep in mind your goals and the list above to a better understanding of the report.

The report is generated through a repeated analysis across short segments of 30 seconds (you can change the duration of the segments if you prefer). It compiles stats across the entire speech to give you a good insight into your performance at different points of your training.

Pitch analysis

Pitch analysis is made by measuring the ‘base’ frequency of a sound produced by the human voice during the speech segment. Determining your base frequency, Virtual Orator will show the range you used during your speech.

These frequencies are translated as notes and semi-tones and determined continuously. It allows the software to detect inflections on words.

Finally, each analyzed segment has a standard tone. It will appear in the stats as a percentage – for how long did you speak in that tone? In addition, the statistics will consider all other semi-tones you used during the segment. This allows you to understand how much did you varied.

Volume Variation Analysis

The volume variation of your voice is another vital point to focus on. It helps to give more emphasis and interest to what you’re saying. Determined in dB, it is reported in terms of the standard deviation of the dB level in our feedback report.

Virtual Orator presents it to you in categorical levels for easier understanding: mildly interesting (>1.5 Standard Deviation – SD), interesting (>2.5 SD), and attention-grabbing (>3.5 SD), as well as the percentage time that the categorized variations go up in volume. This last one indicates if they were either retreating often or over-emphasizing.

Available stats

Virtual Orator’s feedback report provides a visual, fast, and easy way to understand the points above. Our goal is to help you quickly realize if you were monotone and how much variation your speech contained. In short, how boring were you?

To facilitate this, you can observe the comparison of two stats at a time. These are the available stats:

  • percent time the fundamental frequency was used
  • number of other semi-tone notes used
  • percent time higher pitch
  • average semi-tonal distance from the fundamental frequency of other notes
  • average volume (dB)
  • variation in volume(dB)
  • qualitative volume variation
  • percentage of time the speaker went up in tone when using other notes

How can I be sure it is good enough?

Interpreting the feedback report may feel a little subjective. In truth, it is.

The vocal variations are different from language to language. Your goal also dictates how you talk and how much you deviation from your standard tone and volume.

Keep in mind the specifics of your language and audience.

Is the language you’re talking in important to evaluate your performance? Yes, because different languages have different levels of variation.

The same happens with culture. For most western countries, high levels of variation make the audience perceive the speaker as lively and charismatic. This may be perceived differently in other points of the globe.

In the same way, while sudden and accentuated jumps in frequency and volume are good grabbers for the audience’s attention, when used often, the speaker may look erratic and unreliable.

Certain languages have, naturally, more variations than others. For example, if you give the same speech in a Latin language and in English, you’ll notice less variation in English. Even in the English-speaking world, you can find differences. It is imperative that you know how the language you are speaking is usually used and be aware of these nuances when interpreting the report.

Our textual summary is conservative and general. It is designed to be appropriate for most languages and situations. It is up to you, to analyze your context and audience and decide if that level of variation is too much or too little.

What’s the goal of your speech?

When you’re giving a presentation or a talk, you have a goal. Your tone and volume should match that goal.

In some contexts and situations, a high variation will have a positive vibe of excitement and passion. In others, it can make the audience perceive you as unlikable and unreliable. This is also something for you to prepare in advance: what’s the best tone for this specific situation? For example, it is hardly appropriate to look excited when you’re giving bad news, right?

As a speaker, it is essential to pass credibility to your audience. While most studies are not conclusive, it seems that for most audiences, you’ll look more credible when you speak in a lower register. It is a sign of authority. Yet, be careful if you are trying to speak in a lower pitch on purpose. You’ll most likely go back up to your standard pitch various times during the speech. This variation may have the opposite result – lowering your credibility. If you’re not sure you can keep the lower register most of the time, consider using your standard pitch. It will be more effective.

Voice Analysis Interpretation

Generally speaking, more variations will quickly grab your audience’s attention. It will make you look more lively and energetic. Yet, you should always keep in mind the factors mentioned above to take your conclusions.

Virtual Orator’s report is a guide to help you improve towards your goals. Its interpretation depends on many factors – language, culture, target audience, and context.

Cátia is a psychologist who is passionate about helping children develop and train social skills.


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