Every day we use our voice. We use it to talk about what’s going on, what we would like to order at the drive through, and to yell at the schmuck who cut us off on the freeway.
Unfortunately, most of us use it poorly. But it is not our fault — public schools rarely (if ever) capitalize on such subjects as how to generate influence and use your voice effectively. So we are left to educate ourselves on the subject at our leisure.
I am willing to postulate, under the threat of criticism, that our voice is the most powerful tool that each of us has. And in this blog post I am going to discuss how you can use your voice to your advantage, what to avoid when speaking, and why it is so important to watch not only what you say, but how you say it.
One of the things that separates us from the animals is our ability to form words and sentences. But, here’s a crazy thought: All animals are able to speak; they just do it slightly differently. They use sounds. A different pitch, tone, timber, loudness, etc. for every piece of information they wish to convey. We may not understand all of them, but they certainly do (otherwise they wouldn’t make the sounds..)
Due to this fact, people often become too fixated on what they should say rather than on how they should say it. As a result, you get questions like, “Well, what should I say when I come up to her/him?” or “But, what will we talk about?” You don’t have to completely forget such questions, but how you say what you say is much more important than the information you are trying to convey. A message delivered with powerful tonality will, in fact, affect the speaker much more powerfully than one delivered otherwise.
A law school professor once said to the class, “If you speak with enough confidence people will not question your authority.” Think about that for a second. What a powerful statement that is. Each and every single one of us has the potential to use our voice in an optimal way, so why not do it?
Here are five tips I got from an interesting online article to help you use your voice better and more powerfully.
1. Don’t let the pitch of your voice become either high and shrill or excessively low. Both a voice that is too high or too low is indicative of a lack of confidence and lack control over one’s emotions. By keeping your voice balanced, you keep your own emotions as well as the listener balanced and in control.
2. Don’t use an “up-talk” intonation pattern. When you end your sentences with an upward inflection, each sentence sounds like a question to the listener.
3. Don’t speak with a tight throat. A tight throat yields a ‘whiny’ and annoying voice. Expanding your throat will allow the sound waves to travel more smoothly.
4. Don’t talk too fast. Another hallmark of a lack of self-confidence — slow down, and add pauses. Make your listener anticipate the next words out of your mouth rather than wait for you to turn around so they can leave.
5. Don’t sound nasal. A voice that originates in the nose sounds annoying and very unpleasant to the listener. Speak from the gut or the chest (see video below.)
Some additional tips:
• Articulate and speak clearly
• Vary your tone to keep the speaker engaged
• Use the right tempo
• Control your volume
• Get rid of speaking “crutches” (“like,” “um”)
• Finally, record yourself and play it back to hear what you sound like
Lastly, here is a short clip on where your voice should originate from. (Only the first 1:20 are relevant for the purposes of this post.)
So, whether you’re giving a speech to a full auditorium, presenting a case to the jury, or simply conversing with friends at the bar, be cognizant of your most powerful tool and use it effectively. People will appreciate it, and will respect you for it.
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The DUI Guy
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