Understanding the power of your voice
By Michael Kelly
After graduating from law school a friend was having trouble finding a
job. Potential employers commented that her voice lacked credibility. My
friend had excellent qualifications and professional experience, but her
light voice would irritate others instead of inspiring confidence in what
she was saying. If she were to have a successful career she would have to
learn new voice skills.
Your voice is an important part of the image you portray to your
prospective clients, your existing clients, your colleagues, and anyone
who hears you speak whether it's face-to-face, on the phone, public speech
or media appearance. Is your voice pleasing to listen to? Does it convey
confidence? Does it sound tense? Does it fit the way you look? Does your
voice fit the "package" that you want to present to the world?
Here are three ideas to help you understand and unleash the power of
your voice . . .
1. Learn to hear your voice as others hear it
One reason you may not be comfortable with your voice is because you don't
understand why your voice sounds different to you on audiotape versus when
you normally speak. Here is the reason. When you normally speak, your
voice passes through the air to your ears through air conduction. It also
passes through bones in your neck from your vocal folds to your inner ear
through bone conduction. When you hear your voice on audiotape you're only
hearing it through the air, and that is why it sounds different to when
you normally speak. The audiotape voice is the voice that other people
hear. Think about it this way. You hear your voice in stereo (air and bone
conduction) while other people just hear it in mono (air conduction). It
is a good idea to record your voice on tape to hear the difference and
learn to adjust your tone and projection for the best mono result.
2. Keep the attention of your audience by being an 'unpredictable
When you start speaking to someone, you have his/her attention. However
over time, a listener's attention may fade, even if what you have to say
is pertinent and interesting, if there is no unpredictability in your
voice. This "unpredictability" or "light and shade" is
a welcome variation in your voice that maintains listener attention by
reducing listener fatigue caused by listening to a flat voice.
Think of and use the following analogy to make your voice
unpredictable. Imagine the people who listen to you are sailors on the
open seas, and your voice is the wind. If the wind (your voice) doesn't
vary, the sailors (your listeners) set their sails, have a coffee and take
a nap (lose attention).
However, if the wind (your voice) is unpredictable, then the sailors
(your listeners) stay alert and attentive to you. (They keep listening).
3. Speak louder and occupy more space with your voice
It is a fact that most successful people in business have voices that are moderately
loud and can be heard easily by their listeners. They are comfortable
allowing their voices to project clearly.
Here is a simple technique you can perform to assist you in speaking
somewhat more loudly, enabling you to "occupy more space" with
1. Extend your right arm as far as you can, directly in front of your
face with the palm of your hand facing your face.
2. While counting to 10, direct and project your voice to your hand.
Now, whenever you speak, keep in mind the mental picture of projecting
your voice to your extended hand.
My lawyer friend has taken the time to understand her voice and unleash
its power. As a result she is using her voice as a positive tool that
influences others. Her career is progressing well.
About the author: Michael Kelly teaches “Speak
& Listen for New Results”. He is a media commentator, keynote
speaker and seminar leader. Delighted blue chip corporate clients
including Icon Recruitment, Credit Suisse, First Boston and Pfizer.
Michael is the director of Kelly Speech Communication. He has a clear
insight into powerful speaking and listening techniques – to help his
clients keep on winning more business and achieving fresh results in their
careers and their lives. Visit http://www.kellyspeech.com.au
for more information.
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