09 Oct How to Use Your Voice More Effectively For Business
Susan Heaton Wright of Executive Voice answers your questions around communication and charisma…
“I’ve a pretty high and lightweight voice that just doesn’t carry any gravitas. Is there anything I can do to change that…but won’t sound too weird!”
I agree that higher pitched voices don’t “carry any gravitas” – at least to some people. Personally I think this can be part of your personal brand.
There are a couple of reasons why a voice can be high pitched – if you are stressed the pitch of the voice goes higher – but some people naturally have higher pitched voices. Make sure if you are relaxed when you speak to ensure your voice is lower. So for example, make sure you are calm rather than angry.
Try to work out when your voice is particularly high pitched: is this when you are in particular situations, such as meeting new people, making awkward phone calls for example? If you are aware of specific situations when the voice goes higher and/or lightweight, you can make sure you are relaxed when you have to have those conversations. The way I relax is to take some deep breaths and relax my shoulders and neck. I feel the tension leave these areas, and it makes my larynx (voice box) relaxed.
I had a client – a very successful businesswoman, who in specific situations would change her voice so it became girlie and high pitched. She had no idea she was doing it! When she realised this, she was able to work on ensuring this didn’t happen again. There are vocal exercises you can do to discover a lower part of your voice to speak with. However, I’m a little worried about endorsing this or explaining what to do because your voice can be strained, and I don’t want that to happen. If you are particularly worried, it is worthwhile investing in a single vocal coaching lesson with a professional (like me) who will be able to assist you in this, whilst ensuring your voice isn’t strained.
“I hate trying to join little cliques or groups at networking events and just can’t work out the best way to get involved in a conversation. I guess I’m a little nervous about squeaking at people or just getting ignored. Any tips?”
I am sure most people would tell you that they are worried they will be ignored or nervous at networking events! Before we go on, you need to ask why you are there and why other people are there – to meet other people! If someone ignores you, they ‘don’t get it’!
And I’m sure most people would be delighted to speak to you. The Uber Networking Babe Heather White always goes to the tallest person in the room, introduces herself and then networks. Plan one or two things you can say about you and your business; take a deep breath; smile and go for it. If you feel it is a disaster (which it won’t be) move into another group. See if you can challenge yourself to speak to 5 people. Then at the next network meeting with that group, you can speak to them again, and some new faces too. Good luck!
” I’m always making calls to press and customers as part of my job but seem to rush it and hurtle into it at breakneck speed. I am sure I would be more successful if I could just slow it down; can you help?”
Just by calling people up rather than emailing puts you at a competitive advantage so well done! When you (or anyone) is nervous, there is a tendency for you to speak faster. Make sure you are relaxed before you make the calls, remember to smile, listen to the other person and make a conscious effort to slow down how you speak. It might feel very odd to you, but slowing down your speech will make it much easier for the other person to understand you. I do have an audio downloadable course (£23) on speaking on the telephone, which gives great tips on relaxing and speaking on the phone here
One tip I use regularly is to check the way I am sitting or standing before I make the calls; make sure the tension has left my shoulders and neck; take a deep breath, SMILE and then GO FOR IT! So Breathe – Smile – GO!
If you have any questions for Susan, please post them in the comments below and we’ll address them in future posts. Thanks.