Where do you think you rank when it comes to being heard? I'm not just referring to the role you're in and people needing to listen to you. But more so the message and feeling with which you come across. Being in a leadership role requires skills that help define your presence. One of which is your voice. Think about when you've listened to a CEO or a Founder speak; how did they sound? Those who command attention have practiced the way they speak, and when breaking down this skillset even further, tone, pitch, and projection are significant factors.
According to voice coach Roger Love, your voice is the number one most powerful communication tool you have. Love has worked with many keynote speakers and famous singers including Suzie Orman, Tony Robbins, Selena Gomez, and Gwen Stefani. In his podcast The Voice of Business Success he talks about how you need to have a great voice to be successful in business. Love references an interesting 2010 study by Watson Wyatt Worldwide on how communication affects ROI concluding that your ability to communicate your message through the sound, tone and projection makes a direct impact on your productivity and a company’s ROI: Your communication skills matter.
Love recommends that it is very helpful for you to watch those whose voices you seek to emulate. For myself, I enjoy listening to Barbara Corcoran and Oprah Winfrey. It is clear that they have practiced their speaking habits for years. By studying their examples you’ll learn that most influential people have something in common: The tone of their voice.
He also suggests recording yourself speaking, and then playing it back to yourself. Each time you hear yourself, ie; when your tone goes up or down; is louder or softer – you’ll know where you can improve. Doing this repeatedly will add to your confident soft skills.
In the case of Brian Tracy – who wrote Speak to Win – Tracy explains that not everyone is born with the ability to speak well and how great speaking is a learned skill. For voice projection, one technique he provides is to stand outside and practise talking to what surrounds you; that this tactic works especially well in a large field. Another is to practice reading poetry aloud with putting energy and emphasis on various words. Once you gain more experience in projecting your voice, you will feel more comfortable speaking with confidence in front of real life people. But keep this in mind – know your audience. If you’re interacting with someone who hears the faintest of sounds, you don’t need to project your voice as much as you would with someone who is hard of hearing.
Regarding your pitch, a study developed in 2017 showed that changes in your pitch is influenced by your interaction with someone’s social status and position. If you are around someone who you perceive as having a higher social status, you are likely to speak with a higher pitched voice. And vice versa – they are more likely to speak with a low tone of voice; reflective of being calm and in control. If this is the case, should you speak with a lower pitch of voice, you will come across as someone who is more calm and in control. And so I ask you: How do you come across to others with the pitch of your voice now?
When you focus on your voices tone, projection and pitch, not only will you convey your message better to others, you’ll improve your self confidence and reputation for polished communication along with it.
By Janika LeMaitre