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Communicating Confidently – The voice

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Communicating Confidently SeriesCommunication-Tips

Part 1 – Body language

Part 2 – The voice

Our communicating confidently series will take you through some of the key elements that send signals to others about your level of confidence, competence and credibility.

We all respond better to people who are comfortable in their own skin, who sound confident and can communicate effectively.

The way we build an image or perception of someone is complex, suffice to say there are some key elements that you can be more aware of to help you create and maintain a positive image.

Voice

Whilst body language is the single most powerful form of communication, the way we use our voice comes a close second. This is compounded by the fact that our vocal tone and body language are inexorably interlinked. It’s extremely difficult to change one without influencing the other. Try this experiment.

Say the words “I’m so excited to hear about your new venture” in an angry tone. What happens to your facial expression and body language?

So we need to pay close attention to the way we use our voice to convey messages.

Qualities of the voice:

  • Tone
  • Pitch
  • Pace
  • Pause
  • Volume
  • Enunciation/diction
  • Inflection

Let’s take a look at each of them in turn.

Tone

The tone of your voice sets the tone of the rest of the conversation – it can add warmth, sincerity and conviction to your message. If however, your tone of voice is cold, dismissive or sarcastic for example, it will lead the conversation downhill very quickly.

Pitchpitch

Pitch is linked to tone and is the note at which you speak. Our pitch often becomes elevated when we become agitated, angry or stressed. A lower pitch is deemed to be more authoritative and impactful than a higher one.

Voices that are more interesting to listen to use a variety of pitch. Just as a musical instrument would be very dull if it was played using two or three notes alone, so is the voice of a speaker who has a restricted range.

Pace

The pace is the rate at which you speak. It is important to vary the rate at which you speak in order to add colour and variety to your voice. We can speed up for enthusiasm and slow down for emphasis.

Pause

Pauses are necessary for speech for a number of reasons :pause-button-2

  • Give the speaker time to think
  • Give the listener time to absorb information
  • Make the speaker appear in control, authoritative and confident
  • Are useful for dramatic effect

Here’s another experiment. Say the following sentence first without and then with a couple of pauses.

“90% of the difference between the average and best leaders lies in their grasp of emotional intelligence. Would like to be average or outstanding?”

What did you notice?

Volume

No matter how wonderful your voice is, it will be wasted if other people cannot hear you. A loud strong voice gives an impression that you are strong and confident and well worth listening to. A quiet voice on the other hand makes it easy to drift off and will encourage others to stop listening.

communicationEnunciation/diction

Pronouncing words distinctly and clearly so that others can understand and hear them relates to our ability to enunciate well. Clear diction is dependent on how well consonant sounds are pronounced. These give a voice its clarity and brilliance, so work to make the consonants more precise.

Inflection

This relates to the pitch of the voice at the end of a sentence. An upward inflection weakens a statement, whilst a downward inflection strengthens it. Ensure that when you want people to pay attention to a key message, you inflect it down.

If you want to convey confidence, competence and gain credibility be aware of these key qualities of the voice and use them well.

 

  • Record your voice and analyze the playback.
  • Get feedback from a colleague or family member about the tone of your voice.
  • Stand up tall; posture affects breathing, which affects tone.
  • Smile; it warms up the tone of your voice.
  • Practice speaking in a slightly lower octave. Deeper voices have more credibility than higher pitched voices. It will take getting used to pitching your voice down an octave, but it will be worth the effort.
  • Use positive language.

In the next installment of the Communicating confidently series we will cover language and how to use it to best effect.

communication 1

 

 

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JEM Management Training designs and delivers flexible, in-house management training courses to help  organisations in Perth engage their staff fully in the workplace.

As time is often limited, JEM Training offers flexible half-day management training courses which focus on a specific area of management expertise. These short courses build upon each other over a period of time, chosen by you, to provide ongoing management development.

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