Forget about what you say. People make instant judgments about you based on the sound of your voice. You might be smart, friendly, and ever-so-competent, but if your voice sounds young, bored, or irritating, it affects the outcome before you get to the end of the sentence. Quantified Impressions, a communications company in Austin, Texas studied 120 executive speeches, used computers to analyze the voices and collected feedback from a panel of 10 experts and 1,000 listeners. The research showed that the quality of a person’s voice is more than twice as influential as the content of their message. Consider the level of thought and care you typically give to choosing the right words and structuring your message. Then consider the amount of time and attention that’s given to the sound of your voice, the vehicle for that message, probably little to none right? And yet it has twice as much influence. If you’re like most people, you go through life assuming your voice is what it is. Unless you’re experiencing vocal problems or getting negative feedback from others, there’s little incentive to think about the quality of your voice, let alone invest in voice training, but in light of the research how can you not afford to consider this crucial aspect of communication? At the very least get an expert assessment from a vocal coach. People are reluctant to tell you if your voice is sending the wrong message. They don’t want to anger you or hurt your feelings. Furthermore, the lay person may not notice some vocal issues, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, so talk to a qualified vocal coach and get the truth about your voice. Find out if you’re a candidate for voice training. There are three common vocal qualities that can unfavorably skew your personal image. For men it’s the tense jock voice. It’s low pitched but has no richness, fullness, or expressiveness. It makes listeners feel unwelcome and kept at arm’s length.
For women there’s the high, girly voice. It’s bright and energetic, but lacks strength and authority. It makes listeners feel impatient and skeptical, and both genders fall victim to scratchy voice or vocal fry, that raspy quality that often appears at the ends of sentences. Some think it sounds sexy, but it lacks clarity of projection. It makes listeners feel frustrated and disengaged. A vocal coach can help you identify your unique issues. Once you’ve identified your personal areas for development get some voice training. It might be a self-study program, a group class, or intense one-on-one coaching, but it’s got to be more than tips and tricks and YouTube clips. You’re looking for a well-rounded program that addresses all three critical components of voice training, relaxation, breathing, and resonance. The actual work with a vocal coach doesn’t need to take long. You can learn some basic skills very quickly, perhaps in one to three months. Of course, you’ll need to continue practicing to implement the voice training and change the habits you’ve developed over time. If your voice isn’t enhancing your personal image or reinforcing your impact on others, don’t just shrug and assume there’s nothing to be done about it. Your voice matters more than your words. Take it seriously. Get an evaluation. Do some voice training at least a little so that when you open your mouth your listeners think, “smart, confident and successful.” For more information about voice training, click the link below and download the free booklet and video series The Sound of Success.