Recently I read a post from an image industry colleague on how to work with a client on communication skills, particularly the “flat, unauthoritative” tone of the client’s voice. The advice from others was clear – to tune into the sound of her own voice.
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 and personal brand coach. 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 and personal brand presence that should be considered. CEO’s, entrepreneurs, speakers 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 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 aloud, 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
You can also learn more about personal branding with my video series: NOOK, LOOK, HOOK, 3 Ways to Build a Stand Out Personal Brand.
Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is recognised as a leading authority on personal branding and professional presence to help business executives and entrepreneurial professionals communicate with impact and influence. Sue’s suite of services delivered through workshops, consulting, coaching and keynote presentations provides a multi-faceted approach to gain high transformation for her clients.