Good sermons are little good if they are not heard. Almost every medium to large church building has acoustical problems. The microphone system rarely corrects these problem satisfactory. But in most cases, great voice projection does.
What is voice projection? It is speaking from the diaphragm, with proper breathing, projection the voice outward on a column of air. It has nothing to do with shouting or elevating the voice unnaturally. Yelling uses vocal cords, which can get damaged if overused. Projection uses breath from the diaphragm and uses air to create the volume you want. Projection has a depth to the sound. It tends to have a slightly deeper pitch and a rounder, more complex sound. Yelling sounds flat with a higher pitch.
We can also use visualization to improve our projection. Since we are trying to get our sound to travel away from us, it can help to pick a spot on the wall opposite us and visualize your sound hitting that spot on the wall. It will let you focus on how far you want your sound to go. Better yet, on the listeners, especially ones sitting furthest away. How do we look at our listeners when we need to look at our page? Do not need to look at a page. Know the sermon and tell the sermon. A quick glance at notes are not a problem.
Practice saying a phrase over and over until you’re sure you know how much air you need to be heard in the size space that you’re in. A bigger room means more air. With practice, we can easily control the amount of air we use in speaking. The diaphragm does the work, air is the medium, and visualization provides the direction.
Let us look at voice quality for a moment. The last thing we want is a high squeaky voice. We we are nervous, we tend to speak more quickly and at a higher pitch. We need to slow down. What we might consider as speaking as slightly too slow is heard as normal by our listeners. We need to calm ourselves with breathing control.
Projection has to do with speaking with confidence and authority. Do not preach for the “amens.” Get the “amens” from God before the sermon. Use a conversational tone that is more easily understood. Let the power of the sermon be in the Word, not the loudness of our voice.
Now about reading the scriptures orally. Here is the tricky part. We can read from the Bible and still focus on our listeners. First of all, we need to know well the scriptures we are reading by practicing in advance. This will allow us to spend more time looking directly at our listeners. But even when we are not looking directly at our listeners, we can still focus on them. When reading, think of the farthest listeners away. Our minds will still project our voice to them. Otherwise, when we look down to the page, our voice will fall on the page.
If you have a microphone, ignore it. Speak to the listeners. Do not look at or speak into the microphone. Projecting will not overload the microphone. You may have to adjust the amount of air you use when speaking. Otherwise, nothing has changed.