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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

CHAPTER 29

Charming People with Your Voice

Any man may speak truly; but to speak with order, wisely, and competently, of that, few men are capable.

  -- MONTAIGNE

The sound of your voice has a profound influence on the mood and receptivity of the person you are talking to. The mere tone of your voice accounts for 38 percent of your message (as noted previously, body language and the words themselves are responsible for the rest). Who would you prefer to listen to? Someone with a high, shrill voice that pierces your ears and makes you wish you were somewhere else, or someone who is able to charm you with a warm, full voice that makes you feel as though you're being wrapped in a cashmere blanket? It's no contest. Cashmere wins every time.

What about monotonous and boring voices? "Blah" voices, we call them. They are sure to reduce both the attention and the receptivity of the listener. You have to use your voice the way storytellers do, with animation and color that makes whatever you talk about -- even if it's just the weather or the stock market -- sound interesting. Resolve to be a storyteller rather than a talking fax machine.

Lower Your Voice

When you want to sound close, friendly, warm, reassuring, intimate, or caring when you speak, keep your voice in the lower range where the deeper sounds are. The lower to middle tones are also great when you want to reason with the other person or show that you care or are being thoughtful.

Also, remind yourself to slow down. It's very difficult to be close, friendly, warm, or thoughtful when you're speaking too quickly. Most of us tend to slow down naturally when expressing our deeper emotions.

Try this: Say quickly, "I'm deeply concerned about you; you mean a lot to me."

Now, try it more slowly. It will sound much more sincere and real.

Pick Up the Tempo

On the other hand, if you have a flat voice, push yourself out of your comfort zone and pick up the tempo when you want to sound excited or energized. Use the upper sounds of your voice, but not too high. Vary your speed and tone. Choose your pace and tone based on what you're talking about and the mood you want to create.

Deeper vocal sounds suggest size and strength; higher sounds convey smallness and weakness. If you hear a deep barking behind a door, you don't expect to see a Chihuahua; if you hear high-pitched barking you don't expect to see a Great Dane. Powerful people deliberately speak more slowly and with lower tones.

New Voice, New Career

There was a prominent football player who was about six feet seven inches tall and weighed about 280 pounds. He was a great player, but though he was a giant on the field, in everyday life he had the voice of a Chihuahua -- very incongruous. With coaching he learned to change the way he used his voice. This new deeper voice changed his life. He ultimately left football and became a successful sports commentator on television.

Your Tools for Charming Others

First, select an interesting chapter or article from a book or magazine that is easy to read and speak. Then read this material into a tape recorder at a leisurely pace. Gently lower your voice toward the deeper, warmer tones that you can comfortably reach. Don't force it. Let it come naturally, varying your tone up and down. Repeat this exercise until you are pleased with the result.

Second, play this pleasant-sounding voice of yours over and over again at home and in your car. As your new voice imprints itself on your subconscious, you will find yourself speaking in that same tone of voice in your everyday conversations.

When you use the deeper sounds more frequently, the overall perception your listener forms is that of a richer and warmer voice, and a more charming personality.

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