Why does it matter what your voice is like?
You have probably heard of the statistic that states that in any face to face communication only 7% of the meaning is conveyed through the content. The other 93% is made up of 55% body language and 38% voice tone. Even if you take statistics with a bit of a pinch of salt, as I do, you probably have some experience of listening to someone speak and thinking I don’t believe what they are saying. Or just getting bored during a talk or lecture because the person talking conveys the information in a boring manner!
Yes and Yes
I have certainly sat through talks where I know the content is interesting but it has been hard to absorb the information because of the delivery! Even if you have had no experience where that was the case, you will know that you can say “yes” sounding really definite, excited, enthusiastic or the same word “yes” as if you are not sure at all. Same word, different tone, different body language.
Of course, the statistic that 38% of what you are saying gets conveyed through the tones and tunes of your voice may be true in a face to face situation but what about over the telephone? In that case you only have your voice and the content. The body language side becomes irrelevant. So on the telephone the way you use your voice becomes even more important.
And it isn’t just a case of sounding boring, or as if you are not telling the truth. I heard a lecture recently in which the speaker spoke very quickly. The topic was fascinating and important to me, but I could barely keep up with the speed of the delivery, and I am a quick thinker! As this lecture was on a DVD I had the luxury of being able to pause every 10 minutes or so to give me time to process the information. But I felt sorry for the people who were there at the time.
Tones and Tunes
The first sense that develops in the womb is hearing. By the time you were born you already knew the sound of your mother’s voice, as well as the other people who were regularly around and close to your mother during her pregnancy – your Father, siblings etc. Before you understood the content of what was being said to you, you understood the feelings behind the words. You knew when you were being soothed or played with. You knew if your Mother was upset. When you began to understand the content, you overlaid the information you were hearing with your understanding of the content. Underneath the words, behind the words, the information that you receive now, is still coming with the content on top of all the feelings that are being conveyed through the tones and tunes.
For most people, the information coming through the tones and tunes of a voice is being processed unconsciously. To me, that means it is even more powerful than if it were conscious. If it was conscious you could adjust your perceptions with your logic. If it is unconscious then you just have the feeling or the impression without noticing how and why.
A Mistake we all often make
And one of the problems that I come across a lot is that as human beings we often overlap our feelings or opinions about the speaker – onto the content. So if some material is being delivered in a boring way, not only might we judge the speaker to be boring, but more importantly we might think that the subject matter is boring. Imagine telling someone about your organisation and making them feel it is a boring company just because you have little variety in the way you speak!
A true story
Some time ago I worked with a Chief Executive and a Finance Director who called me in because every time they presented their results to the city the shares went down! Understandably they wanted to know what they were doing wrong. As soon as I heard them I knew what the problem was! The CEO spoke very quietly. In his head it sounded quite loud, but to us on the outside it was very quiet. The Finance Director spoke very quickly. Although it was not the case at all, it sounded as if the CEO wasn’t very confident – of the company – and the Finance Director sounded as if he was trying to ‘put something past us’ before we had time to process the information. Not a very helpful combination!! By slowing the Finance Director down and making sure he paused enough and by turning up the CEO’s volume the next time they presented their results to the City the shares went up!
The same principles apply in many situations. Your Corporate Voice; your Trainer’s Voice; your Teacher’s Voice; your Therapist’s Voice as well as the voice you use to your Husband, Wife, or lover is going to have its impact and the responses you get will be coloured by the way you say what you say.
Happily, working on your voice to get it to serve you better and be a more effective tool is not difficult. To begin with, just noticing the responses you are getting and asking yourself whether you could have conveyed the information more effectively will give you a good start.
How your health and emotional state can affect the quality of your voice
Your biological, chemical and physiological state at any time has a direct effect on the sound of your voice and therefore how your message comes across when you speak.
For example, adrenaline causes the vocal tract to stiffen which can make a voice sound more monotone which in turn is perceived as boring. Or it can become more high pitched, which sounds stressed. It only takes under a quarter of a second for adrenaline to reach the vocal tract, so even a moment of fear or panic, which produces adrenaline, will change the way a message is delivered.
Or too relaxed?
On the other hand, when your vocal cords are very relaxed, like when you first awake in the morning or after having just had sex, your voice can sound gravelly, and be perceived as unenthusiastic or disengaged.
Some good news
Conversely your physiology can make your voice sound more open and resonant. For example, yawning opens the back of the throat (you can feel your tongue go down at the back and your throat open when you yawn) and chest beating Tarzan style helps to open up resonance in the chest.
Inflections: the meaning behind the words
The tunes that you hear behind the words give you information too. For example when you drop the pitch at the end of a phrase it sounds like a command or a statement and when you raise the pitch at the end of a phrase it sounds like a question regardless of the content.
Could Laura Help?
Laura Spicer has learned from the top people in the fields and assisted many people to improve their lives and enhance their performance. She brings her own unique mixture of knowledge and experience in coaching voice and catalysing change through her understanding of how our thoughts affect and underpin our behaviour.
Many years of coaching business people to use their voices to sound more interesting, motivating, empathetic and authoritative enable her to teach you how to sound more the way you want to whilst remaining completely authentic. Her years of assisting and learning from Dr. Richard Bandler, Paul McKenna and Michael Breen have provided her with tools to assist you in all your thinking and behaviours to clear blocks, motivate, inspire and help you make desired changes with pleasure and ease.
With her training in Voice Skills, Neuro Linguistic Programming and High Performance Coaching, Laura is uniquely placed not only to assist you to achieve far more than you previously knew you could but also to ensure that you can communicate that brilliance to inspire and motivate others.
Laura’s flexible, business-focussed approach results in bespoke courses, tailored to your needs. You will learn skills based on proven physiological, phonetic and psychological principles, and enjoy the process. In addition, Laura specialises in preparing people for media appearances in film, tv, radio and theatre, tele-conferencing and virtual classroom teaching.
How does your Voice affect what you can achieve?
In the first few seconds of meeting someone new or when first standing up to give a presentation or speaking in a meeting, people make judgements about us. Are we worth listening to? Do we have anything interesting to say? These judgements are made least of all on what we are saying, they are predominantly influenced by how we convey the content.
Stress has a strong and almost instantaneous effect on the voice. A voice which is normally rich and resonant can be compromised when under stress. When you first stand up to talk or meet someone important for the first time does your voice let you down? Do you gabble, sound high-pitched or monotonous? Are the judgements people make about you helpful to you? Are you immediately perceived as strong, impactful, knowledgeable; or unsure, weak, nervous or ill-informed?
Many people wrongly imagine that as long as you are knowledgable and well-prepared you will make the impact you want to. However, most of us have had the experience of trying to stay alert through a presentation, not because of the content but because of the delivery.
Many people know they could sound more inspiring, keep their audience more engaged or just connect more fully when they speak at meetings, sit on panels or present to groups. Many don’t like their own voice but think they are stuck with it. Lots of people get asked to repeat themselves often but don’t realise they are too quiet, mumbling or speaking too quickly.
If this has pinged your interest and you would like to find out more about how Laura’s coaching can help you, click here and request a call back to discuss your personal goals.
“I didn’t realise how big an impact using your voice effectively can have in communicating until I saw Laura.Her ability to not just project her voice,but focus it on the entire audience at once was something i’ve never seen or heard before.Since that single morning spent with her, learning some simple tools and approaches,i’ve become 10 times better in my communications with people.She showed us some simple warm up exercises,and a couple of tools to do with focus and voice placement.
For about a week after meeting her,I noticed every time I didn’t communicate effectively,so I made the necessary changes and now,having a deeper and more focused voice,people respond to me like never before,I get my point across more clearly and with less effort.And I also find i’m more more influential with others.Thank you Laura, for waking up this invaluable new communication ability of mine!”
Technical Director at AQ/AQ