July 27, 2013
By Andrew Phillip Chernoff
It was an interesting week and I had a number of challenges that involved my continuing efforts to change a behavior, manner and approach to things, that for years I had adopted and were reinforced but as the years turned to decades, I had not adjusted, or changed, which became problematic, and led to me trying to better my self….figuring it is never too late.
Change is not easy.
This week I was given some wise words, that had me doing some soul searching, and thinking about concepts and words like “manner”, “approach”, “projection”, “the message”.
The comment I received was something this person had taken to heart some years ago and he has applied in his life and work to this very day.
What was it?
“You lose the message as soon as you raise your voice.”
Simple. Understandable. Contemplative statement.
Contemplate I did.
More than that though, I did more than think about it, I tried to keep that in the forefront of issues and matters I was involved in after those wise words were shared with me.
As I said earlier, change is not easy. For a person to change the way they have previously done things can be like a child learning to walk for the first time…..it can be awkward…..you stumble…fall down…..are not quite sure just how it is going to work out…..but as you keep trying and persevering, before long, it is all a thing of the past and you end up running and climbing to bigger and better things.
In my research on this topic….isn’t the World Wide Web wonderful…so much information shared on the Internet…..I came across a site that gives advice on presentation skills, and one of those skills involves the voice and is titled, “There’s A Message In Your Voice”.
Your voice is a bigger and more important part of your presentation than you may think. With your voice, you can mutter, whisper, or shout. You can roar, suggest, demand. You can state, announce, assert, declare, affirm.
I could not help but think that while I knew that and understood that, had been aware of that over the years……I did not really take time, make time to really think about the meaning behind that quote above, and allow it to make a positive impact on my life.
As my wife tends to remind me often, everything happens for a reason. And this past week, well, it was time.
I share the following, believing that there is not one person, if they are open to self improvement, and improving their people skills, especially communication, could not benefit from thinking about it.
While speech is how you use words, voice is how you create sound. To your listeners, your voice is a part of who you are and what you believe. Follow these tips on using your voice effectively when you’re giving a presentation.
Use your voice for maximum impact.
From the sound of your voice, your listeners will make judgments about your attitude toward them and the ideas you’re presenting. They’ll judge your sincerity and credibility in part by your voice. And in turn that will affect how they respond to you and your message.
It follows that to be a good presenter, you must take care of your voice and learn to use it effectively. (See our article, Take Care Of Your Voice, also in this issue.) The proper use of your voice can emphasize and strengthen every message you deliver.
Vary the elements of sound for emphasis.
If the pitch, volume, rhythm, and timbre of your voice never fluctuate, you’ll be speaking in a monotone. And you’ll risk losing your audience as a result.
“They’ll judge your sincerity and credibility in part by your voice.”
A monotone suggests to your listeners that you have little invested in them or in your message. It suggests you don’t really care much whether or how your listeners respond.
A monotone provides too few points of emphasis, the kind that helps your audience comprehend your message. But you can supply those points of emphasis by making your voice more expressive. An expressive voice pauses and quickens … changes pace … lowers and raises both volume and pitch. It carries emotion ranging from certainty to doubt … surprise to assurance … delight to disgust.
Work expression into your voice by varying the elements of sound: volume, pitch, rhythm, and timbre. Try that now by reading this next sentence aloud:
“I didn’t tell her you were stupid.”
Depending on how you vary the vocal elements, you can give this sentence any of several meanings. Begin by saying the sentence aloud, emphasizing the first word with added volume. Continue repeating the sentence, each time emphasizing a different word:
“I didn’t tell her you were stupid.” (Somebody else told her.)
“I didn’t tell her you were stupid.” (I emphatically did not.)
“I didn’t tell her you were stupid.” (I implied it.)
“I didn’t tell her you were stupid.” (I told someone else.)
“I didn’t tell her you were stupid.” (I told her someone else was stupid.)
“I didn’t tell her you were stupid.” (I told her you’re still stupid.)
“I didn’t tell her you were stupid.” (I told her something else about you.)
Identical words. Different meanings. That’s the power of voice.
Here are some more tips on harnessing your vocal power:
“Lower the volume for an aside. Raise the volume gradually as you build toward a point.”
Adjust the volume.
Use changes in volume to prevent your voice from slipping into monotonous sameness and to alert your audience to the nuances of your message.
Always speak loudly enough so everyone in your audience can hear you. Speak a little more loudly if the audience is large, even if you’re using a microphone. (See our article, When You’re Using A Microphone …, in this issue.)
Lower the volume for an aside. Raise the volume gradually as you build toward a point.
Change your volume when you’re changing an idea or an approach. Use your full voice with a microphone. (See our article, When You’re Using A Microphone …, also in this issue.)
Refine the pitch.
Pitch is the frequency of the sound waves you produce. It is about hitting high or low notes with your voice.
Become aware of pitch and learn to refine it, phrase-by-phrase.
Questions, for example, should end on a higher note. Conversely, affirmative statements should end in a level or slightly lower pitch. The ending of statements on a high pitch can create doubt in your listeners.
Vary your pitch throughout your presentation to establish and reinforce your message.
Alter the rhythm and tempo.
Rhythm is the pattern of the sounds you produce. Tempo is the pace of your voice.
Use rhythm to carry meaning.
Slow the pace to emphasize certain ideas. Quicken the pace to show excitement or humor.
Pause to underscore major points or to give listeners time to absorb a complex idea. Pause also when you’re about to transition to another idea.
Control the timbre.
Timbre is the emotional quality of your voice. It’s the attitude behind a word or a phrase. Listeners perceive a speaker’s attitude and use their perception to build comprehension.
Use timbre to enhance your meaning or express the emotion or attitude you want to create. Choose words and phrases that support that attitude.
Vary your emotional expression to support and signify meaning.
Your voice is one of the many tools with which you communicate. Practice managing your voice. Become adept at using it to clarify your message and to carry its significance to your listeners.
Take care…..keep smiling…may the force be with you….work safe…drive safe….be good to each other….just saying….live long and prosper.
COPYRIGHT ANDREW PHILLIP CHERNOFF 2013