Your voice is a key tool to help listeners process vital information and data. How skilled is yours? Here's why your voice matters in business speaking!
Does your voice really matter in business speaking?
It sure does, more than you think. And actually, in a really important way that you probably don't realize.
I'm talking about how your voice is essential to getting listeners to understand what really matters in terms of what you're saying. And just as critical, in helping them retain it and spur them to action. That does sound important, doesn't it?
Keeping Your Listeners Engaged and Attentive
The first idea I'd like to propose is really very simple: your voice is a key element in keeping your audience awake and listening.
Just as the human eye responds to change not sameness, so does the human ear. Picture yourself driving across a long stretch of absolutely similar terrain. You're looking at nothing but pine trees that all look exactly alike, or a desert landscape on both sides of a highway in the West. I imagine pilots looking out at an unbroken expanse of sky are in the same position.
Your mind is lulled to inattentiveness at best, or at worst, dozing off. But the instant you see something different—a lake peeking out from behind the trees, or a Joshua tree sticking up in the desert, or a storm your plane is approaching—well, you notice! Suddenly, you're more attentive, and probably, interested.
You need to stay focused to keep your audience focused! Download my Free cheat sheet, "10 Ways to Stay Fully Focused When Speaking."
Your audience is just like you driving or flying the plane. They need stimulation and yes, a bit of entertainment to keep engaged and attentive. This is a primary reason why speaking in a monotone is deadly. You can have the best data in the world, but if your audience isn't listening to you as you talk about it, what does it matter? The lesson here is, as I say, simple: your voice needs to vary in terms of dynamics, i.e., pitch, loudness, pace, tempo, pauses, and vocal quality.
Getting to the Heart of What You're Saying
The other reason your voice needs to be alive and lively is a little more complex. But it gets to the heart of your worth as a speaker. It's this: part of your voice's job is to help listeners process what you're really saying. Emphasis on the next-to-last-word in that sentence.
Do you know how to lead listeners where you want them to go? Download my Free resource, "How to Speak As a Leader: The Power of Performance." Learn stage presence!
It all has to do with the relative importance of the material you're conveying. You may not speak in a monotone. But if you don't alert listeners to the levels of importance of your content, you're doing them a serious disservice. To do this, you need to understand the difference between the primary, secondary, and tertiary importance of your spoken content. If that language sounds too pretentious or bookish for you, think in terms of making your important points stand out from the rest of the content.
As an example, suppose you say: "So remember, if we're going to bring sales up next quarter, this is the element we need to focus on, not the others we discussed earlier. If we do this, we'll be in much better shape than we were last year. Now, sure, we'll face some headwind, but I know we'll do great."
Here's more on sounding authoritative: my Free tips & tricks guide, The Voice of Authority: How to Sound Like a Leader. Speak with the attributes of leadership!
If all of this (as you speak it) sounds exactly the same, how are your team members going to react to what they're hearing? That is, how are you going to activate them the way you're really trying to accomplish here? To oversimplify just slightly: the first sentence above is of primary importance (and really, only up to "to focus on"). The rest of that sentence and the next one are in the secondary category. And the last sentence is really parenthetical, i.e., third in importance. Try this little pep talk aloud, first without any real range in your voice, then paying attention to whether the essence of what you're saying (and your intentions) come across. Hear the difference?
Think of it this way: your voice should help listeners both understand and process your content. The words alone can't make that happen. It's totally job security for speakers and presenters.
You should follow me on Twitter here.
Gary Genard is an actor, author, and expert in public speaking and overcoming speaking fear. His company, The Genard Method offers live 1:1 Zoom executive coaching and corporate group training worldwide. In 2022 for the ninth consecutive year, Gary has been ranked by Global Gurus as One of the World’s Top 30 Communication Professionals. He is the author of the Amazon Best-Seller How to Give a Speech. His second book, Fearless Speaking, was named in 2019 as "One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time." His handbook for presenting in videoconferences, Speaking Virtually offers strategies and tools for developing virtual presence in online meetings. His latest book is Speak for Leadership: An Executive Speech Coach's Secrets for Developing Leadership Presence. Contact Gary here.
Main photo credit: Daniel Brubaker on Unsplash.