We give away a lot when we speak. While we are hopefully making sense of the words we are using, others are subconsciously assessing the SOUNDS we are producing. You might find it useful to give these some thought:
I am bored
If the voice flattens out, fades out or continually inflects downwards, the speaker has disconnected from the communication and is not considering the listener. This can happen when training, as you are delivering the same content over and over again. You may need to find ‘performance energy’ to make each session fresh.
I am speaking a script
You can hear this when you respond to a call centre. When someone doesn’t sound spontaneous it annoys us because we think they are not treating the conversation appropriately. It is helpful to let your staff answer the phone with individual style. Remember that on the phone, the voice is all you have to introduce callers to your business.
I am stressed
When someone is tense or under pressure, we can hear it in the tone of the voice. We breathe shallowly which makes the voice sound weaker. We then try to increase the volume by tightening the muscles of the throat and this lifts the pitch and makes the tone tight and rather harsh. As this is unpleasant to listen to, your audience is likely to switch off. Make sure your shoulders are down and try breathing deeply to control the delivery.
I am out of control
Everyone has a habitual speed of delivery. When someone is habitually fast or when excitement takes over, the pace can become so rapid that clarity is lost and the listener gives up on trying to follow. This is difficult to fix but it may help to focus on completing all of your words and trying to use pauses for thought.
I am not confident
This occurs when someone has a quiet voice and it matters just as much in a 1 to 1 situation as it does when you address a meeting or large audience. The problem is that we believe our voice is loud enough because we ‘feel it’ internally in our heads. Actually, it is how the voice carries through the air which affects the listener. When a voice is not sufficiently loud for the situation, we feel subconsciously that the speaker is being quiet because they do not feel comfortable. Often, quiet speakers do not know that they are too quiet. Do someone a favour and tell them, because it can make a big difference to their success as a communicator.
I hope this will make you think about how you use your voice in the many business situations you find yourself in each day. Remember that the way you sound is even more important than the words you choose.
Have a great month and don’t forget to:
Speak Loud & Clear!