Some people just have it, don’t they — that thing you can’t put your finger on but which sets them apart from people? They stand out from the crowd, for all the right reasons.
What if you could have it? What if there was a way you too could stand out for all the right reasons? Even better, what if I told you that you already have it?
This may sound too good to be true, but I assure you it’s not. That thing we envy about others and wish we had? Nine times out of 10, it is their charisma — and the thing that supports their charisma is their voice.
Don’t believe me? Think about it. Do you think President Obama would have got to where he is today if he sounded like Pee Wee Herman, all high and shrilly? He may well have had all the criteria, experience and skill set necessary, but if he couldn’t convey that or instil confidence in his followers and supporters then he wouldn’t have got there.
You may not be aiming to be President, but I’ll bet you want to be successful — otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article.
So, does your voice say the right thing about you, does it convey the right image? Image is not just about the suit you wear or the hairstyle you have, it’s also about the way you speak and how you project yourself.
If you don’t know how your voice sounds, record it and then critically analyse it.
How quickly do you speak? How clear is your speech? Do you mumble? Do you use correct grammar? If there are things you don’t like, then they may be things other people don’t like. Similarly, don’t be over-critical. Think about the qualities of your voice. Maybe have a friend or trusted colleague listen and give their feedback on what they like. You may be surprised!
It’s important to retain what makes you unique though. You don’t want to start sounding like someone else or changing your voice so much that your family and friends won’t recognise you! It’s about using your voice in a way that helps you deliver your message with impact.
Make an impact
So, how do you strengthen the weak areas and develop the good qualities further? It’s actually rather easy. The work I do at New Voice is all about connecting individuals to their voice, through coaching and small workshops.
There are some very simple exercises you can do to help warm the voice up at the beginning of the day, simple breathing exercises to keep things fresh, and then some warm-down activities to soothe any tired vocal cords at the end of the day.
Making an impact every time you interact is the key to success. You may not always feel confident but here are three things I do that I think give me that edge when I most need it:
Three deep breaths: Deep breathing is a proven way to help the body relax; we also need big lung-fuls of air to support our voice. Taking three deep breaths as I prepare for a speech or presentation helps to calm my body down and give my voice the strength and support it needs.
Confident stance: If I act confident, then I feel confident. Standing tall, with shoulders back and chest out, makes me feel in control, even if I may not be. I make sure my hands are loosely clasped in front of me as well so I do not overdo the gestures or hold paper with shaky hands.
Singing scales: When I am nervous, my voice tends to go higher. Before I start speaking, I consciously lower my voice so I start speaking with a deeper tone.
I don’t overdo this because it’s important to sound natural. To find these lower tones, I sing a scale and see how low I can comfortably go.
If you take the time to listen to your voice, build simple exercises into your daily routine, then before you know it, you will have a voice that speaks success!