Before your next presentation, I highly recommend refining how you use your voice to deliver your message. Why do I prescribe this practice?
Your voice plays a critical role in your success as a presenter. According to an analysis of media appearances by 120 top financial communicators, the sound of a speaker’s voice matters twice as much as the content of the message.
Let me repeat that: The sound of your voice matters twice as much as the content of your message.
With that understanding, the next question becomes: How can you harness the power of your voice to ensure optimal results from your presentations?
The secrets to successfully mastering your own voice can be found in the results of studies focused on the role of the human voice in communication and influence.
According to research conducted by San Diego State and Columbia Business School, listeners typically associate voices that vary in volume (with a tendency towards louder volumes) with authority.
The bottom line: Convey authority by speaking up.
According to a recent study, men and women prefer female leaders with masculine voices. In addition, men also prefer male leaders with masculine voices. However, women do not discriminate between male voices.
The bottom line: Demonstrate authority by taking your pitch down a notch or two.
If your facial expression communicates one emotion, but the tone of your voice conveys a different feeling, the listener often becomes confused as a result of neural dissonance. The inconsistency with your communication can damage your credibility and decrease your effectiveness as a persuasive speaker.
The bottom line: Communicate credibility by matching your voice and your facial expression with the emotion you are conveying with your words.
An evaluation of the most popular TED talks concluded that the most successful TED speakers have 30.5% higher vocal variety than less popular TED speakers.
The bottom line: To increase your charisma and credibility, increase the amount of fluctuation in your voice tone, volume and pitch.
According to some studies, vocal fry, the creaking, drawn-out tone that emerges when speaking below your normal register, hurts first impressions of both men and women.
Other studies however have concluded that vocal fry is often viewed as authoritative by people under 40 years of age, while people 40 years of age and older interpret the vocal fry as a negative speaking trait.
The bottom line: Know when to fry and when not fry.
Before you can refine your voice for your presentations, you must first know how you sound to others. Recording yourself speaking is the best way to get an accurate assessment of your current vocal strengths and weaknesses.
People don’t hear their own voices as others hear them. The voice must travel through the bones of the head before reaching the speaker’s ears, changing the way it sounds, says Dr. Edie Hapner, director of speech-language pathology at the Emory Voice Center at Emory University.
To strengthen the impact of your voice, learn from sound expert Julian Treasure by watching his TED talk, How to speak so that people want to listen. In his TED talk, Treasure demonstrates the how-to’s of powerful speaking, including some handy vocal exercises, as well as tips on how to speak with empathy.
With so many studies telling you how to speak, knowing the best way to communicate can be confusing. If you’re overwhelmed with the variety of suggestions for speakers, remember that authenticity always wins. First and foremost, you should always be true to yourself.
However, if you are comfortable giving your voice a tune-up before your next presentation, you will likely reap impressive results considering the numerous studies that point to the tremendous value of mastering your voice.
To know how your voice makeover will influence your audience’s perception of you as a speaker, rehearse your speech in front of a small group of people who will give you candid feedback on the impact of your voice. Feedback from people within your target audience will give you the clearest path towards finessing your voice for public speaking success.
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