April 4, 2013
We spend ages improving our marketing skills but there are even more fundamental things that we should also concentrate on when trying to influence people.
One of these is the sound of our voice.
We all know the phrase ‘Sex Sells’. But could your voice be “sexy” enough to sell your product or service?
And don’t think this doesn’t affect you if you are an Internet marketer or never meet your potential buyers. Today we are using more and more audio and video online and all of us use the phone on a regular basis .. maybe not selling but buying is part of the profit cycle as well.
I do a lot of public speaking. Group sizes can range from a handful of people to several hundred in an audience. When I’m on radio the potential audience size can run into millions. People tell me they find my voice compelling, that i am full of enthusiasm, that my voice sounds sincere and trustworthy and that they could listen to me for hours. Yet I know I make many of the classic public speaking mistakes. I speak too fast, sometimes I don’t project my voice correctly and … well let’s just say I make many mistakes.
The truth is that although we are the “talking ape” we could all improve our talking technique.
So what makes for a good speaker? What makes a difference when we speak on the phone or in person to a potential customer?
In the King’s Speech we see reality dramatised when George VI is given speech therapy for his stutter. Maggie Thatcher was also coached to give her voice more gravitas and authority. You see people tend to prefer a deep voice; it fills them with confidence. They don’t actually mind accents .. in fact many are actually liked a great deal. My American friends often comment postively on my deep English accent (which Brits would recognise as strongly Devonian) so I guess culture and background do play a part here.
However most cultures and people don’t like the nasal sound that is produced when we speak down our nose. They are also adverse to high pitch voices; especially where it is unexpected, for example in a man. Maggie Thatcher was coached to produce a much lower pitch and it gave her gravitas.
Some politicians gain reputation as great orators. Churchill was one. His trick was to speak slowly with big pauses. Think of his “fight them on the beaches” speech. Each sentence had several pauses. Of course Churchill also wrote, “If I had had more time I would have written less”. He recognised the power of “less is more”. He said little but made every word count.
As I said a rich voice is liked by many people. I’ve been described as having a voice like dark brown chocolate (there’s nothing wrong with chocolate). The trick is to let your voice resonate in the throat and bone cavities in the skull. I also amplify my voice from the stomach rather than the mouth. It provides more depth and allows you to throw your voice to the back of a large room. It is important that everyone can hear you without you having to shout. I also hate using a microphone when speaking in public!
Have you noticed how some people are really bad at this? You sometimes hear them on a teh phone in a train or public space making themselves heard by shouting down the phone. The trick is to project the voice rather than shout.
Can I help you with this? No. You need a speech coach to go beyond the obvious tips I’ve given. What is useful however is to record yourself and critically listen to your delivery.