How Does  Your Voice Make People Feel?

How Does Your Voice Make People Feel?

Al Pacino-2How does your voice make people feel?

A recent NPR story explains how employers are starting to screen potential hires with new algorithms that rate people’s voices.  The article uses the actor Al Pacino as an example of someone with an engaging voice (who would theoretically pass the cut).

What does your voice convey? Confidence, trustworthiness, friendliness? Or nervousness, timidity, lack of energy?

If you’re not sure, or if you have a nagging feeling that your voice is undermining your message, you’re not alone.  Now, while your voice reflects your personality and you wouldn’t want to try to be someone else, learning a few fundamentals about controlling and enhancing your voice – like actors do — could bring out your personality more in an authentic way.

What are some of the aspects of vocal delivery that affect how you come across?

Volume.  While an overly loud voice can sound aggressive, a voice that one has to strain to hear doesn’t convey confidence.  Luckily, volume can be increased or controlled with practice.  Have someone stand across from you a large room and give you feedback on how easy it is to hear you.  Try ten steps away, then twenty, then more if you have the space.

Rate.  Someone that speaks too fast will come across as nervous, while speaking too slowly, though rare, can put people to sleep.  Try recording yourself and listening to your rate and adjusting.

Tone.  The greatest speakers vary their pitch for emphasis.  Tone also has to do with  resonance factors (such as depth and richness on the one hand, nasality & shrillness, on the other hand). Vocal exercises can help you increase the tonal and pitch possibilities in your voice.  As a start, try experimenting with varying the pitch on your favorite poem.

Clarity.  Being able to be understood without sounding like an English teacher is crucial.  Exercises (including tongue twisters) that work the articulation muscles (lips, jaw, tongue) help the words to roll “trippingly off the tongue” (Hamlet’s instructions to the players) – even if you’re feeling nervous.

Expression.  Finally, actors understand that every bit of text that they recite must be backed by strong intention.  It’s a misconception that actors “pretend.”  The best of actors find a connection with their character and really feel what the character feels.  Learning how to be emotionally present while delivering your speech will help you have more of an impact on your listeners.   You might spend a few minutes before you give your talk doing some deep breathing and reconnecting with why your message is important.

If you would like to learn more, consider attending our introductory workshop on June 3rd (see below) – or contact me to schedule your free “Get Acquainted Call.”

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