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Sunday, November 01, 2009

JETNETTING: The First Impression Factor XVIII: The Quality of Vocal Variety, Part 1

Jetnetting with Heshie Segal

Never underestimate the power of the voice. In every communication, the voice, with its vocal elements, pauses and breathing, has the ability to make a powerful first and lasting impression.

      Statistics prove that delivery (including voice and body language) carries a far greater wallop than content.

      Well-known communication researcher Albert Mehrabian has shown in his studies that 38% of a

      speaker’s credibility comes from the voice - that is, sounds, tones and pitch - while only 7% of the impact

      comes from what the person actually says. Because your voice is a major factor in how people respond to

      you, be aware of how you use it.

Your voice can communicate your sense of confidence, competence, attitude and professionalism. It conveys meaning and gives the listener information about you.

  • A tentative voice might betray a lack of confidence.
  • A loud, high-pitched, rapid pace signals stress.
  • A loud, sharp sound results from an unwillingness to hear someone else's view.
  • Prolonged silence (lack of voice) can indicate disagreement, creating tension; or indecision, potentially leading to distrust.
  • Lack of confidence, self-esteem, uncertainty, passiveness and dishonesty is generally accompanied by a soft voice.
  • Someone who is boastful, aggressive, or angry may speak in a voice that is simultaneously loud and rapid, or chillingly measured and controlled.
  • A speaker may be unaware that his or her voice is whiney, nasal, high pitched or strident. These qualities will have a considerable impact on the “receiver’s” perception of the speaker and may detract from the message or presentation.
  • If the accent or emphasis on certain words, and the tone of voice are inconsistent, it may influence what the listener understands. Consistent inconsistency also leads to mistrust.

Fortunately, there ARE things you can do to assure your voice is conveying the perception you want people to have of you. Practice speaking to develop relaxed breathing and varied vocal elements. You can do this by reading aloud from a magazine, book, or newspaper on a regular basis; say 10 to 15 minutes a day. Because the major resonance in your speaking voice comes from your head, mouth and chest, experiment speaking alternately from each area, to project a full vocal range.

Women generally speak with less chest resonance than men and therefore may come across with ‘thinner’ voices. For most people, creating the desired modulation and effect does take work, and it is well worth the effort. Resonant voices appear to be more powerful, believable and pleasing to the ear.

Are you ready for a deeper, more resonant voice? Then, be aware of the physical aspects of speaking, breathing in particular. 1). Relax your body and your breathing to get air flowing smoothly from your lungs. 2). Practice speaking by breathing from your stomach, not your throat. It gives your voice a fuller sound. Note: Good breathing gives you a more resonant voice while throat breathing produces thin voice quality. 3). Get used to breathing in and out of your mouth to keep your throat open.

For maximum effectiveness, and to make your voice more expressive, learn to vary the vocal elements (known as vocal variety) of your voice: pitch, tone, volume, inflection, rhythm, pace, pronunciation and articulation. If you put meaning and expression into your words, it will further help you vary the vocal elements. For example, if you say: “joy” then sound happy; for “sadness”, let them hear the low pitched voice with slow delivery, “power” will be accompanied by strong tonality, “energy” will have a faster, generally higher pitch.

It is critically important to vary your tone, speed, volume and pitch for emphasis. If you are addressing a large audience, change your pitch, volume and speed at least once during a “paragraph”. If you are speaking one-on-one or within a small group, you will still need variation, just toned down a bit.

Some concluding remarks: There are three scenarios to heed:

1). Low pitch, low volume and speaking too slowly generally produce boredom.

2). High pitch and a fast pace can either indicate high energy and excitement, or it can also be perceived as

a state of nervousness.

3). A monotone is boring and a turn off. Too much of one thing does not provide what might be called

arousal power, because it all sounds the same.

In The Quality of Vocal Variety/Part II, I will go into more depth so you will have the optimal advantage in using your voice when making a first impression.

For more information, please visit Heshie's TNNW Bio.

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1 comment:

Lillian Bjorseth said...

Heshie, thanks for this great advice for professional speakers and anyone who wants to communicate with power.


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