This week 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.
This segues perfectly into the final blog in my series of Leadership Presence blogs.
R is to RESONATE as a leader.
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 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
L – look like a leader
E – engaging speech to connect with audiences
A – act professionally
D – discern and insight into how you are perceived
E – evolve with continuous learning
R – resonate with a clear voice and compelling communication
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.
If you would like help to formulate your executive leadership presence, please contact us.
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 to boost image, profile, brand and business. Through her image management programs, workshops, consulting and keynote presentations, Sue helps businesses and entrepreneurs present an influential brand image.