by Bryan Heathman
Your tone of voice can have a greater impact on your powers of persuasion than the words you use. There’s no doubt that your voice is a powerful instrument.
But what are you doing to control it? There are distinct methods to make your message as haunting or as catchy as a song on the radio so that people are singing your praises.
Think of a really memorable talk or presentation you attended recently – one that moved you or changed the way you view the world.
What was it that stayed with you? Was it the speaker’s words, or was it the tone of voice that moved you? The odds are high that the speaker’s passion came through – broke through the barriers of your mind so the words could captivate your heart.
Maybe you felt it in the quiver of their voice as they told an emotional story. Perhaps it was a sudden change in their volume – a whisper or a shout that rattled you in your boots.
You might have been influenced by their tone of voice when they asked a thought-provoking key question. Perhaps it was the sheer pace of the words – staccato as a machine gun – that tumbled out of a mouth straining to keep up with inspiration.
The fact that you’re thinking about it now is a testament to the power of the human voice.
How To Become Impossible To Forget
All of these elements tap the rich array of capabilities of the voice, making it possible to influence others and communicate with passion.
It’s the sad truth that too many discussions, speeches and presentations are easy to forget. And that’s a problem because the reason anyone would want to talk with you or listen to you is to engage in memorable, meaningful communication. One of the most potent yet often overlooked facets of vocal communication is the instrument itself – the voice.
Whether you’re addressing an audience of one or one thousand, you’re engaged in public speaking each time you open your mouth to speak in a public place.
So how are you coming across? When you speak, are people reminded of the dulcet tones of a rippling brook… or are they shrinking, as if from the shrill sound of fingernails slowly raked across a blackboard?
No matter where you find yourself today, as a novice or a master, you can learn to use your voice for a more lasting effect and become unforgettable.
Speaking of Dynamics…
The dynamics of your message will come through much more clearly when you color your message with a range of volume, tone and rhythm that conveys your emotional intensity. Your voice and intonation make all the difference in how you come across.
There are three basic elements that you can tap to ensure your verbal messages are understood – and remembered – time and again.
Before you can communicate effectively, it’s essential that you really connect what you want to say, who you’re talking to, and why they might want to listen. Match the purpose of your words with your volume.
The human voice has a dramatic dynamic range, from the intensity of a whisper to the full, rich command of a shout. If your voice is too soft, you risk coming across as mousy. Too loud, and your audience will tune out. Make sure your message is fully heard so that people catch the full meaning of the important words you want to convey.
Adjust your vocal quality to match your audience. Support your tone with a breath that stems from deep in your body cavity. Relax your tongue and throat, and allow your words to flow from a mouth that seems to savor them.
Your vocal quality or timbre, the way you articulate, and the rise and fall of your voice all contribute to your tone. Like the melody line of a song, you’re composing and singing your message all day long.
Who are you speaking to? How much time do they have? How long is their attention span? What are their interests, beliefs and values? What do they share in common with others? How are they unique?
Each of these factors will influence the rhythm of your speech.
If you’ve been asked to give a eulogy at a good friend’s funeral, by all means, take your time. The dearly departed has probably earned it. There’s no shortcut here, and the members of the congregation are sure to appreciate the display of respect demonstrated in your slow, measured speech, savoring every last detail you painstakingly convey in your somber pace.
Slow thoughtful speech is the hallmark of a eulogy. If that’s your venue, take your time. Otherwise, cut to the chase.
Brevity is the soul of wisdom, and the rhythm of your speech has the power to convey a world of urgency or a casual note of nonchalance. Match your pace to the audience before you.
What do you want your audience to do as a result of your communication? What’s really at the heart of your message? By effectively using your voice in a measured, deliberate way, you can pack a powerful punch that drives your message home.
Communication is at the heart of all relationships and business dealings. Whether you’re connecting with an audience of one or a thousand, your experience can be a rich and rewarding one. Using your voice to full effect will mean the all the difference in creating a lasting impression.
Bryan is author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book on converting website visitors into paying customers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes executive positions with Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.