Communication is more than just your words. Your voice also adds to the meaning of your words. The message the sound of your voice sends is so powerful it may override your actual words.
Consider the words, “everything’s okay.” This phrase can mean a variety of things depending on how you say it:
“Everything’s okay.” Reassuring or soothing.
“Everything’s O-KAAY.” Sarcastic. As in, ” I told you already!”
“Uh…everything’s uh…okayyyyy.” Unsure or still checking.
Everything okay? a question.
What makes each statement be perceived differently are the three characteristics of the voice: pitch, volume and quality. Maximizing these will make you a more powerful and confident communicator.
You can learn to control all three voice characteristics. Here are a few tips:
Pitch: How high or low your voice is. Talk in a high pitched voice, as if you are speaking to an infant, and you’ll notice your voice is a bit hollow and thin. This happens because you are speaking from inside your mouth. Drop to a low voice and you can feel the sound coming from deeper in your throat. The best pitch for normal conversation is the sound that comes when you breathe fully from abdomen causing your diaphragm to expand. When you are nervous or fearful your voice may sound high or pinched because you’re breathing from the top of the lungs. Take a breath.
Volume: This is how loud your voice is. Again, the volume must come from your diaphragm and not your throat. Throat volume sounds like shouting not confidence. If people continuously ask you to speak up you’ll want to increase your volume, otherwise you may notice others ignoring you. You can practice increasing your volume by “pushing” someone across the room by the volume of your voice. Your practice partner can only move backward if they feel your voice moving them. Try it. You’ll begin to hear what a powerful voice sounds like even though it may sound too loud at first.
Quality: This is the richness, emotion and meaning your voice sends. Pitch and volume adds to the quality but so does your feelings and overall health. Notice the difference the quality of your voice has when you’re feeling sad as opposed to when you’re feeling on top of the world. This is why it is so important to smile when you are talking on the phone–people can tell!
Put the sound of your voice to work today!
Don’t forget to pick up a copy of “Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Everything you need for workplace communication at your fingertips. Get it here.