RPT #9: Top 7 Tips For Developing The Voice That Wins By Dr. June Johnson
The voice is your most powerful means of communication. How you hear yourself is not necessarily how others hear you. Successful professionals have voices that command attention and move people to action. The following tips will help you to develop the voice of authority.
- Breathe from the diaphragm — the foundation of effective speech. It is the power behind the voice that gives it depth and authority and increases your ability to project. It also helps control nerves and keeps the voice from rising in pitch when under stress.
- Articulate your consonants. A recent Gallup Poll listed mumbling as the most annoying habit of speech. Consonants are what make speech intelligible, the “bread and butter” of speech. If people have to work to understand what you’re saying, they’ll stop listening.
- Use inflection. The voice has a natural range of 5-8 tones that give the voice vitality and add color and interest to what you’re saying. Bob Dole was a boring speaker because his speech lacked inflection.
- Pronounce all syllables. You will sound more professional when you do. Dan Quayle frequently referred to George Bush as “Present” Bush! Missing syllables make for sloppy, lazy speech. Avoid pronunciations such as “innernet,” “comtuble,” “inneresing,” “gummint,” “reglar,” “secetary,” etc.
- Keep the vocal energy flowing. Energy is the key word to speaking effectively. Fading away or dropping ends of sentences will leave the listener in the dark. If the point is important enough to be made, it’s important enough to be heard.
- Tape yourself. Learn to know your voice. Once you’ve identified the habits you want to eliminate you’ll be on the road to developing habits that will make you an effective speaker. As with anything else, it is possible to improve how you speak.
- Talk to or with people, not at them. No one likes to be assaulted by a voice that’s loud or abrasive. The pleasant, well-modulated voice will accomplish far more than the voice that overwhelms.
Dr. June Johnson, President of VOICEPOWER, is a speech and communication coach. Through her workshops, seminars, keynotes and private instruction, she provides the skills and techniques for speaking more effectively and giving more successful presentations. Her numerous articles have appeared in national publications and she has authored a book, “You Look Great, But How Do You Sound?” and set of training tapes, “Find the Power in Your Voice.”
Try taping yourself at your next session and use the checklist above to measure how you did. Questions and feedback about effective speaking are welcome.