Want to be heard and taken seriously? It’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. You have amazing ideas and a mission to change the world, or at least a part of it. You want to make a real impact on others and earn their respect. So, how can you achieve that?
While you can’t control others’ actions, you have power over yourself. To optimize your influence, let’s explore the benefits of vocal impact.
Let’s start by examining some research that highlights the importance of voice. In a study, over 300 participants were asked to rate certain personality traits based solely on the word “hello.” Traits such as trustworthiness, dominance, and attractiveness were evaluated. The remarkable result? An agreement level of 92 indicates significant consensus among participants regarding the personality traits associated with each voice. The takeaway? People unconsciously judge you based on your voice.
The good news is that you can make a few adjustments to enhance the impact of your voice. Here are nine tips to help you take control of your voice and exert a more powerful influence:
Cultivate a deeper voice.
A lower-toned voice is perceived as more authoritative and knowledgeable. Numerous studies have shown that a deeper voice is associated with leadership, better memorability, and potential financial success.
If you don’t naturally have a deep voice, be cautious. Research from Duke University found that women who try to artificially lower their voices, a vocal technique known as vocal fry, are perceived as less competent and trustworthy.
Transform your inner dialogue.
Recently, I worked with a woman I had hired for a specific project. It quickly became evident that she harbored some resentment towards me, despite us never having met before. Her insecurities unknowingly seeped into her voice—not in what she said, but how she said it.
To avoid this pitfall, address your inner self-talk. Conquer your inner critic to develop a confident and positive voice inside and out.
Let your smile shine through.
Smiling can make you feel happier, and this happiness can be conveyed through your voice. People are naturally drawn to those who exude positivity. Additionally, smiling causes physical changes in your mouth, influencing the tone you produce. Smiling helps you sound more friendly and responsive.
Utilize a dynamic tone.
A monotonous or flat voice conveys boredom or being boring—traits that won’t help you influence others. Instead, strive to vary your tone by incorporating higher and lower pitches. It adds a compelling and engaging quality to your voice.
Harness the power of speed.
Slow speakers are often perceived as less honest, less captivating, and less influential compared to those who speak at a faster pace. Faster speakers are deemed more energetic, competent, and intelligent.
However, don’t rush your speech like an auctioneer. Strike a balance where your excitement is palpable while ensuring clarity and comprehension.
Embrace the power of pauses.
While this may seem contradictory to the previous tip, well-placed pauses can also enhance your impact. For instance, pausing before making a statement can emphasize its importance. A brief pause allows you to gather your thoughts without resorting to filler words like “um” or “you know,” which can undermine your effectiveness as a speaker.
Adapt to their accent.
Research shows that people tend to be skeptical of individuals with accents different from their own. Although you can’t control your native accent, consider taking steps to modify it if necessary.
I have a friend who is a well-known TV personality. Growing up, he had a strong Boston accent. However, when he moved, he realized the importance of adjusting his pronunciation to resonate with a broader viewership.
Shallow, anxious breaths tighten your vocal cords, leading to an anxious-sounding voice that may rise in pitch (see tip 1 for why you want to avoid this). On the other hand, deep belly breaths reduce anxiety, relax your vocal cords, and create a calmer tone.
Inflect with confidence.
Inflection refers to where you emphasize words. Those who use a rising inflection (starting with a lower pitch and ending higher, as in a question) are often perceived as uncertain and less trustworthy. Instead, employ a downward inflection (going from a higher tone to a lower one) to project confidence and authority.