Is your voice unhappy?

Member news | October 18, 2021

You are sure that you have prepared the best speech of your life, but when it is time to deliver it, your audience does not seem interested in your masterpiece.

So, it is time to check if the tone of your voice and your rhythm are in tune with your presentation.

Everyone has a different voice, and yours can be one of the keys to your success. You may need to work on the tone and quality of your voice, project more, review your posture, and use effective breathing techniques.

The vocal dimension accounts for up to 40 percent of the overall message that listeners receive, and your vocal delivery has a significant effect on how you are perceived and understood.

Experts divide vocal delivery into two categories: clarity or understandability, and expressiveness. 

To communicate clearly, you must vocalize in a manner that is easily discernible to listeners who will hear the intent and emotional tone behind your message.

Your vocal ability and your tempo may reflect your confidence and impress your public as much as the content of your speech.

Stress and emotion can affect your voice, and your anxiety may push you to have tremolos and make you speak with a sad, lower voice.

A study by the University of Stirling in Scotland has found that we tend to change the pitch of our voice depending on who we are talking to, and how dominant we feel.

Dr Viktoria Mileva, a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Stirling, said: "These changes in our speech may be conscious or unconscious, but voice characteristics appear to be an important way to communicate social status. We found both men and women alter their pitch in response to people they think are dominant and prestigious."

The study mentions also that individuals who rate themselves as high in prestige and believe people look up to them and value their opinions, do not change how loud they are speaking, no matter who they are speaking to. This may signal that they are calmer and in control of a situation.

According to other studies on power and persuasion, speaking at a faster rate, with higher volume, lower pitch, and full resonance carries the sound of authority. Vocal variety is also strongly associated with perceived, and actual, status and dominance.

Now, it is your turn to consider how your vocals will best illustrate the intent and content of your message.

Muriel Omur Ilbas is a former TV producer and anchorwoman, a communication expert with 20 years of management consulting, 16 years of training services, and 11 years of executive coaching experience.

She has worked with more than 150 global companies including Pepsi, British American Tobacco, Coca Cola, L’Oréal, Limagrain, Lesaffre, Total, Peugeot, Groupama, Louis Vuitton, Basf, Roche, Glaxo, and Novartis.

Her company, LSWUS Consulting, LLC, based in the U.S., provides a broad variety of online and in-person services in consulting, coaching, training, mentoring, and crisis management for expat managers and international students living in the US.

She provides intercultural coaching and public speaking services under her brand: Your Coach in America.