Vocal Variety is Key for Effective Communication
from Victoria Squier, faculty at Speakeasy
Do you want to be more convincing and persuasive when speaking to your team or to senior executives? You may want to sound more dynamic and committed to what you’re saying when you speak, like it matters to you. You want to say it like you mean it.
Most of the time, in business, we try to sound too “professional” and in control. This tends to flatten our vocal tones. Listeners either tune you out or doubt that you care. They are not compelled to listen to what you’re saying.
The voice with the most color and variety is the best attention-grabber and gives you the most credibility.
Most of us do vary our voices to a certain degree. However, monotonous speakers sound boring because it’s not enough variety to the voice. In speech terms, this is called modulation or inflection. To lose a flat, boring voice, you’re going to have to speak with a greater assortment of notes, similar to music. The more notes in a short piece, the more interesting we find it.
Whether you’re on a conference call, at a meeting or giving a presentation, the key points of your message have to stand out. You can’t just let everything come out sounding the same. The words you want to emphasize need special treatment. By raising or lowering the pitch or your voice, you highlight them just as bold letters, underlined words, and italics do in print (I’m sure you’ve noticed this by now.)
To speak with more color and variety, you simply need to increase the amount of pitch change on important words. Raise the pitch on key words or drop the pitch on an important word for changing the emphasis. For example, words that qualify something (such as adjectives and adverbs) are good words on which to modulate. You can also emphasize nouns and verbs, especially action verbs. Another method is to stretch certain vowel sounds in words out by prolonging them.
Give your message greater impact by adding variety to your voice. Your listeners will thank you! They will be pulled out of their boredom (at meetings) and into your message whenever you speak. And you’ll appreciate seeing less and less people stealing glances at their iPhones under the table.