Every professional and business person has to do a lot of talking — in person, on the phone, and while giving presentations. You are called on to motivate staff, explain your product’s benefits, negotiate with prospects, speak to journalists, and pitch to investors.
If you are not happy with your voice — or you’ve never really thought about how you sound to other people — check out 10 tips that could help you boost your vocal image. You can practice by recording your voice using Evoca and sharing the recording with a friend or mentor.
Vocal tip #1: How you sound is more important than what you say
It is worthwhile improving the impression we make with the sound of our voices. How we say things is much more important than what we say. Other people decide whether to agree with us or not, take our advice, or support us based on the sound of our voices.
Listeners on the phone and radio quickly jump to conclusions about our intelligence, education, expertise, credibility, likeability, and even what we look like, based on little more than the sound of our voices.
Vocal tip #2: You can improve your voice
The good news is, you can change the quality of your voice. You can learn how to use your voice to convey more authority and more decisiveness, and to connect better with others.
There are specific things people can do to improve; even making a 25 percent improvement in your vocal image can be a huge transformation.
Vocal tip #3: People are not good listeners, so you must speak clearly
Is it up to the listener to catch our message? Not if it’s you who wants to make an impression, or get something happening. Practice speaking in front of a mirror to check whether you are opening your mouth enough.
Vocal tip #4: Work to overcome the limits of telephones, and speakerphones
Standard telephones deliver a restricted bandwidth to the listener, which cuts off all the highest and lowest frequencies. Speakerphones are even worse.
Add more energy to the lips and the tongue. The point is to speak more clearly, not necessarily louder.
And here are two more practical tips for the telephone:
- You need to say ‘S as in Sam’ and ‘F as in Frank.’ You’d be surprised how many people have lost business because they just gave their website or their e-mail, and there was an F that their listener heard as an S.
- When you’re leaving a message, say your phone number or website address twice to give your listener a better chance to catch it.
Vocal tip #5: Inject vocal variety into your voice, especially when giving a presentation
Monotony is deadly sin in speaking. Add some variety to your voice, some ups and downs, some vocal highlights and some dramatic pauses, and louder and softer tones. Do it strategically, in a way that works with your message.
Emphasize the keywords of your presentation so your vocal changes work to help anchor the main points of your content.
Vocal tip #6: Don’t mumble; learn how to move your face
Don’t mumble because it can suggest that you’re not quite sure of what you’re saying or you’re not quite interested in connecting with the listener. People with deep voices should be especially aware of this issue.
Vocal tip #7: Overcome nasality by opening your mouth
People find a high-pitched, squeaky-sounding voice find irritating. Open your mouth to allow your sound waves that emanate from the larynx through your mouth. That’s exactly why singers open their mouths widely … to let the sound out.
Vocal tip #8: To inject more energy into your voice, stand up while talking on the phone.
Standing puts less pressure on your diaphragm and allows you to speak more easily, plus it tends to give you more of an energetic feeling than sitting down.
Vocal tip #9: Drink a large glass of water 20 minutes before you need to speak. It also helps you avoid excessive throat clearing.
Twenty minutes before an important interview, phone, radio or TV interview, or presentation, have a glass of water because it takes 20 minutes for the body to hydrate.
Vocal tip #10: When you’re speaking on the phone — and especially during a recorded interview, always remember to smile.
Smiling alters the muscles in your face and throat, and subtly affects your voice. If you have trouble remembering to smile, prop a mirror up on your desk and watch yourself while you talk.
In conclusion, there is a lot riding on the sound of your voice. Start adopting two or three of the tips and assess the results. Then continue on to adopt the rest to reach the your own sound of success.