Remember the old adage – it’s not what you say, but how you say it? I believe it’s both what you say and how you say it – confidently and with impact that will have others really listening.
I’m often in business or networking meetings where the attendees are asked to introduce themselves. A handful of participants will unwittingly miss a great opportunity to promote themselves or their ideas by speaking so low that they can’t be heard. When they speak they do not project confidence and therefore do not have much impact. It’s important to manage your image and personal brand and your voice is one tool that you can use to your advantage. It can help you leave your listeners with a positive impression of you.
Most of us focus on what we say (the words) rather than how we say it when communicating. The quality of our voice is one of the most important elements in how we come across. Speaking is a powerful way to communicate and reveal our thoughts, ideas and beliefs and most of us need to focus on how our voice sounds and ways to improve it.
Our voice is as unique to us as our fingerprints and is comprised of many facets such as tempo, volume, rate of speech and pitch. When speaking, we hear our voice through our internal ear. This happens because of the way sound travels to our inner ear and picks up vibrations inside the body. The combination of these two things makes up the voice we hear when we talk. In general we hear a fuller, deeper sound than our listeners hear. That’s why many of us don’t like hearing a recording of our own voice because the voice we hear sounds tinnier and higher or just plain different to us. We inevitably say, “ I don’t like how I sound”!
People make assumptions about you based on many things and your voice is one of the major elements used to evaluate you. Working on optimizing how you sound will ensure that you will be the best you can be with the voice you have. Here are some ways to do that:
- Be aware of the affect your voice, combined with your words has on your listeners. Your words, tempo and tone should all work together and that interdependence relies on breathing correctly. Deep breaths ensure that you have enough air to project your voice and a strong voice commands attention!
- Your tone can enhance the quality of your message. Avoid being monotone by using up and down inflections when speaking. A steady, strong tone conveys confidence and competence best. If you speak too fast you may be projecting nervousness or impatience. A harsh tone is usually perceived negatively.
- Work to raise the volume of your voice by focusing on speaking up and projecting your words. Speaking in a steady strong voice will help you to come across with conviction and confidence. Just be sure that you are not speaking so loudly that you come across as yelling. Too soft or too loud distracts your listener from hearing your words.
- Practice until you feel that you sound natural and enthusiastic in your conversations. You can record your voice, using either audio or video and then listen to the recording. Do you come across the way that you would like to? Is your voice clear? Strong? If not, jot down some of the areas that you would like to work on and set a goal to improve each area with a timeline for completion.
- Listen to professional speakers or people whose speaking style you admire and try to emulate them in areas you feel you would like to improve. Look at how they project their voice and the way they pronounce their words. Actors or professional speakers spend time and money with a speaking coach to be able to project the professional voice they need for their profession. You too might want to consider working with a coach to improve your speaking style.
Remember, the quality of your voice is about all of the factors that come together when you speak. It’s about the pace of your words, the volume, the variations and inflections your voice projects, your body language, and the energy that comes through your voice. All of these factors come together to project your vocal image and how it’s perceived. Managing the impression you make determines your success or failure when speaking.
Contact me at www.trignanoconsulting.com for information about coaching and career management including DiSC communication style assessments. 973-722-9961