Thursday, November 19, 2015

Does Your Leadership Presence Resonate?

I am still feeling the good vibrations of a short, relaxing, tropical island getaway. Which segues perfectly from feeling good in holiday mode – good vibrations– Beach Boys (get it?) to the final in my series of Leadership Presence blogs with the R in LeadeR for Resonate.

I am a graduate of the Ensemble Studios in Sydney where I studied acting for 3 years. It was a wonderful experience and set me up well for my following career, first as a news and television presenter and now as a speaker. We learned a range of skills including acting technique, movement, singing, dance and voice.

As a budding actor I was taught to command a stage and audience through projecting a clear, resounding voice. Every day we practiced warm up exercises, tongue twisters and tuned into the sound of our voice. I still practice the techniques I learned to ensure my voice is well prepared when I am speaking or training. 

Having a resonant, well-modulated voice is an element of leadership presence that should be considered. CEO’s, entrepreneurs and other leaders need to command attention. It is said that Margaret Thatcher, consciously dropped her voice an octave to sound more authoritative during her time as Prime Minister of England.

According to oft quoted research by Albert Mehrabian, we tune into sound more than the actual words that are spoken. He is recognised for the communication formula known as the 7%-38%-55% Rule, for the impact of words, tone of voice and body language.These areas are often summarized as the three V’s – verbal, vocal, visual.

According to this research – 38% of a presentation is vocal impact – tonality, volume, rhythm and pace. How accurate this is I think often depends on the listener. For instance when I listen to podcasts or webinars – the words are definitely important but if the delivery is dull or monotone I tune out straight away. I’m not a patient listener. I’m more visual. So if I see someone speak, even though the sound of their voice is not rich or exciting, if the content interests me then I will tune in for longer.

You may tune into voice and presentations in another way. However, to improve your vocal tone – tune in to the sound of your own voice. Record yourself while reading, presenting or talking to someone. Pay attention. Monotone, dull delivery, excitable chatter, mumbling or sentences ending in upward inflections won’t assist in conveying verbal clarity and conciseness of a leader.

If you are delivering a speech, the strong and effective use of your voice is one of the most powerful presentation tools you can possess. 

Here are some ways for using your voice for maximum effect:

  • Resonance – learn to deepen your voice by opening up the back of your throat and speaking from your diaphragm

  • Pace – faster, slower, pausing – for emphasis, drawing attention, recollecting thoughts

  • Volume – softer, lighter, louder, stronger – to add variety

  • Emphasis – accents on certain words, boom, pop, strong – ideally use a combination of all these points

  • Liven up with improvisation and creativity

I was inspired to write this series of blogs by a colleague who works in image and leadership in London. Sarah Brummitt shared her LEADER formula at a workshop I attended and I’d like to acknowledge her work – thank you Sarah.

Click here for more information on my presentation skills training. 

In my free eBook The Power of Personal Public Relations I write more about image and building your brand. Download your copy here

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Read last week’s blog Change of Scenery to Progress Brand Presence

Sue Currie is a personal branding specialist providing solutions to business owners and organisations to boost their image, renown, brand and business. She is the creator of the Shine Personal Branding System™ a process she uses to coach executives and entrepreneurs to progress in their careers. Sue is also the founder of Shine Academy™, providing professional development training. Through speaking, corporate workshops, and consulting, Sue helps businesses and individuals to stand out and shine.

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