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Chapter 8: Fault #5: Monotonous Voice and Sloppy Speech

Overview

Speech is a mirror of the soul. As a man speaks so he is.

—Publius Syrus

Your voice is your calling card. Over the phone, it's responsible for the entire impression you make on your listener. Whether you bore or enthrall—a lot depends on how you sound.

People's initial perceptions of each other break down three ways: visually (how we appear), vocally (how we sound), and verbally (what we say). The verbal aspect accounts for only 7 percent of how we are perceived; how we look forms 55 percent of the impression, and how we sound a surprising 38 percent. Yet the sound of our voice is something we give little thought to.

But you have to be conscious of your voice—and of how to change it—throughout your speech. As anyone who has heard a droning speaker knows, the wrong voice, besides making a bad impression, wrecks an otherwise compelling speech. A monotonous tone, mumbling, lack of clarity, and poor enunciation leave the audience noticing your voice and not your words.

A voice is not a neutral thing: It's either a wonderful asset or a serious liability. It either conveys control and confidence or proves a lack of both. But it should be your greatest aid in being interesting and exciting, because it can insert variety into a speech with such ease. To battle an audience's short attention span, speakers need to insert something interesting every three to four minutes. But that doesn't mean coming up with stories and jokes exclusively; you can use your voice to get attention immediately. You can polish your voice just as you polish your speech. All it takes is awareness and practice.


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