Friday, October 30, 2015

Is the Sound of Your Voice Hurting Your Career?

You may be surprised the first time you hear your own recorded voice.
Who is that person who sounds like Daffy Duck? Why didn’t anyone ever tell you that your voice makes you sound like a third-grader? Is your voice really so high-pitched it’s a wonder dogs aren’t howling for miles around?
While everyone is taken a bit by surprise to hear his or her own voice, most people just shrug it off – or try to convince themselves they don’t sound that bad.
The problem is that your voice makes an impression on others, just as the clothes you wear or your body language convey a message about you. If you’re working with a remote team, the impact of your voice is even greater as others can’t can observe your body language or see your facial expressions.
“In the workplace…the quality of your voice can be a deciding factor in your degree of success,” says Leonard Mlodinow, author of “Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior.” “The pitch, timbre, volume, speed, and cadence of your voice, the speed with which you speak, and even the way you modulate pitch and loudness, are all hugely influential factors in how convincing you are, and how people judge your state of mind, and character.”
That’s why you can’t brush off the impression your voice makes on others. So, just as you put time into your professional dress, conduct and presentation skills, you need to devote more energy into improving your voice.
“Studies show that, just as people signal the basic emotions through facial expression, we also do it through voice,” Mlodinow says.
Here are some tips from vocal coaches on how to improve the sound of your voice to make a better impression on your team:
  • Speaking faster is better. The University of Michigan finds in a study that those who speak at a rate of about 3.5 words per second were much more successful at getting people to agree than those who talk very fast or very slow. Researchers find that people are more distrustful of those who speak too quickly, while those who talk too slowly are perceived as not too bright.
  • Control your pitch. Those whose voice pitch rises and falls too often aren’t seen as animated, but rather as fake and trying too hard, the study finds. Lisa B. Marshall, author of “Smart Talk: The Public Speaker’s Guide to Success in Every Situation,” says it’s not easy to change the natural pitch of your voice, but you can keep it as low as possible by taking slow, full, deep breaths and trying to keep any nervousness under control.
  • Lower your voice. Just listen to movie trailers and you’ll hear how often deep voices are used to convey messages. The Michigan study found (read more here)

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