Don’t waste the valuable resource and useful tool that is always with you.
When you speak, others may hear and notice what you say, but not nearly as much as how you say it.
The way you use your voice can and does convey an astounding array of emotions and traits. It holds the key to getting and keeping attention, demonstrating confidence and credibility, and communicating the three ingredients of charisma: presence, power, and warmth. Your voice is more than one of many physiological functions your human body can perform. It is a simple yet mighty tool — a tool it pays to learn how to use.
Really, what it comes down to, is knowing when and how to vary your voice tone in order to get your intended message across. You have three dials to play with and you can turn them up or down at will: Pace, Pitch, and Power. Here are tips on how to adjust those dials for maximum impact.
I love the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and there’s nothing more simple than pace. You can talk fast, you can talk slow, or you can talk somewhere in the middle. The goal is not to keep a steady pace. You’re not a tortoise — and especially if you’re trying to keep attention, slow and steady does not win. It puts your listener to sleep!
The middle range — a conversational talking speed — is easiest to listen to. Let that be the baseline, even when you’re in front of a group. From your mid-range baseline, however, be sure to sometimes slow down or speed up.
Speaking slowly adds weight to your message. If you also include some well-timed pauses, you nonverbally mark your words: “This is important!” Your audience will remember more if you let them hang on your words and give them space to sink in. Obviously (I hope), you don’t want to speak w i t h m e a s u r e d d e l i b e r a t i o n all the time. Overusing a slow talking speed degrades its power; it gets boring! Save slow words peppered with pauses for the big stuff.
Speaking quickly, on the other hand, conveys excitement, enthusiasm, or passion. You need to still be understandable, of course. But you can add energy to your conversation or presentation by allowing yourself to pick up the pace when it makes sense.