Raising Your Voice

A recent study of communication at the University of California reported communication is perceived 55% through bodily stand and gesture, 38% through voice tonality and 7% through the actual words used. It’s clear how we present our message can be more significant that the message itself.

The importance of a strong vocal image for achieving success is not a new idea. From Julius Caesar to Ronald Reagan, leaders have been made, then remembered for their mastery of speaking and the quality of their voice. Now the necessity for reach of us to communicate clearly is more important than ever. Personnel managers report communication skills are often the deciding factor in who get the job or the next promotion. We all need to be heard, understood, and in control of the message our manner of speaking conveys.

The first thing to do is to develop vocal awareness. Listen to people’s voices — actors, newscasters and politicians. Notice who sounds intelligent, successful and sincere. Ask yourself why. Record yourself talking. What qualities characterize your voice?

A good business voice should be strong, expressive – with a natural variety of pitch and feeling, have clear enunciation and enough breath control to support an appropriate volume of tone through spoken phrases of thought. Warmth and resonance are also vital. Once you’ve decided improving your voice can give you a better lead in the corporate climb, you can learn more by reading one of the many books on speech and speaking available in the business or self-help section of your local bookstore.

Exercises may also improve your speech. You learn to feel what sounds good. A lot of the exercises are aerobics for the lips, tongue and jaw. Good speech is yoga (breathing and exercise) for the voice. Exercises help you focus and relax before a presentation.

Lessons with a vocal coach or speech teacher are often helpful. Teachers will have a repertoire of proven techniques and can save time by designing a program especially for you. Many have broadcast or performance backgrounds and encourage enthusiasm and commitment. A really good voice coach will help you refine the unique qualities of your voice enhancing a distinctive image. Significant progress can be made

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