Voice Power

I wrongly read the collection time sent by text and turned up 2 hours early at the airport.

Instead of wasting time berating myself, (see previous post) I decided it was an opportunity for a quiet read – but I hadn’t brought the book I was midway through.

So I headed to the bookshop where I saw a book called, “Talk Like Ted”,( and as it was about powerful presentations I thought I would buy it and see what they had to say about how to use your voice to make a greater impact and engage the audience more fully.

Unlike many presentation manuals, it did actually have a section on voice.   However, like most of what is available, even when voice is mentioned, it gets a very small cut of the pie.

In “Talk Like Ted”,  the relevant chapter contained 8 pages on voice and 20 pages on – you’ve guessed it – body language.

Unfortunately it confirmed my previous experience that voice gets underrated, forgotten, glossed over, and side-lined.

Why does voice skill get so little coverage?

When you attend a talk, training, workshop, presentation, lecture or meeting, most trainers will focus on the content  – grabbers, openings and closings etc.

The non-verbals i.e. the voice tones and gestures, support the way the listener ‘filters’ the message and in the main is processed unconsciously

Because the bit of the communication that tends to be processed least consciously of all is the voice, it gets, at best, a brief mention......

....and yet it has such a deeply powerful effect.

Without your listener realising it, you can guide attention and create the greatest emotional impact with it – not the words themselves but the tones and tunes, the undulations and inflections, the pauses, speed (pace), emphasis and volume.

The reason your voice is such a powerful tool is precisely because it is mainly processed unconsciously!

So you would imagine that everyone would want to harness this amazing unconscious voice power, and yet, perhaps because it is so unconscious, and so taken for granted – most public speaking trainers and coaches glide gracefully over the voice stuff and concentrate on the content (statistically speaking responsible for around 7% of the impact), and the body language and gestures (55%), and teach very little about how you can leverage the amazing unconscious power of your voice – which accounts for at least 38%!  (NB it accounts for more on the phone!)

In “Talk Like Ted” Carmine Gallo, the author, gives over 8 pages to voice.   She identifies 4 aspects of voice – the rate, volume, pitch and pauses.

But what about the inflections which are absolutely key?  What about the energy in a voice?   What about emphasis?   And even the 4 aspects she writes about are lacking much advice to help you improve what you can do with your voice.

Up, down and by how much?

Your hypnotic voice copy

She misses writing about the power of rising and falling inflections for a start  – how your voice goes up or down at the end of each phrase.   And importantly how much up and down.

Try it yourself by saying the following phrase 4 ways.

  • First let your voice drop down a lot at the end.
  • Second try letting your voice drop just a little.
  • On the third and fourth times let your voice rise at the end of the same phrase – the first time rise a lot and the second just a little.

Notice how that affects the meaning behind the words

OK – here is the phrase:   “shall we go to the park” 

Speak it out loud and listen to your own voice.  Do you notice when your voice goes up a lot it sounds incredulous – as if you can’t quite believe it?

When it goes up a little it sounds like a straightforward question.

When it drops a little it sounds like a statement of fact.

When it drops a lot at the end it sounds commanding.

Those differences are created by the inflection alone (not the content or body language)

Imagine what happens when you become really skilled at using inflections to convey your  message!

That gentle rising inflection forces the listener to feel like answering a question (even if they don’t answer you out loud, in their mind they will be asking themselves whether they want to go to the park).

If the pitch rises a lot your listener is likely to imagine that you don’t want to go to the park but you are asking them anyway.

The statement or the slightly falling inflection sounds like it is a done deal, decision already made, statement and

The big drop will sound like you are not being asked at all – just told that that is what you are going to do!

When you think about all the applications of this piece of information and begin to practice being aware of your own use of inflections you will also begin to notice how much power those inflections carry!

In another post I promise to tell you some more tricks for using your voice powerfully as well as investigating what is possible in terms of your power to influence by just learning a few simple voice skills and practising them.

For a presenter this skill is essential.   For a hypnotist even more so.

And yet once again a new bestseller comes out on the “9 secrets of Public Speaking” and there is only a smattering of voice – so important in your tool box of public speaking skills.

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