Add vim to your voice with vocal variety

The best way to make the most of your voice and hold your clients, candidates and colleagues’ attention.

Your voice is a powerful tool for gaining a positive response to your presentation, telephone call, or in face-to-face conversations such as interviews.  

In recruitment, where speaking can be a big part of the role, it’s easy to forget this. Especially at the end of the day when you’re tired, your voice can sound dull and monotone. Listen to the voices around you in the office at 6pm!

Andrew P Bennett

Here are my tips for enhancing your vocal delivery and sounding interesting and dynamic.

Your vocal gym
Just like a singer getting ready to perform a beautiful song, you need great posture to allow your voice to become its musical best. We need to find a comfortable, flexible body alignment, which helps us look alert and ready to speak.

If you’ve ever done a warm up at the gym you‘ll be familiar with the rag doll exercise. Your body is like a column with the feet supporting the column – just slightly apart (no wide apart stance or crossed ankles).

Release tension by gently, slowly allowing your head to drop forwards, then your shoulders and torso, arms floppy – just as far as is comfortable. As you do this, breathe out. Then slowly uncurl yourself, bringing the head up last. As you uncurl breathe in calmly and then once upright, gently breathe out.

Your head is now crowning the column of your body. You can breathe freely and your voice can travel easily. 

It’s worth stepping away from your desk to do this during the day – especially if you have a habit of slouching over your keyboard.

Keep breathing
Our voice starts with the breath that comes up from our lungs and travel through our voice box and mouth into the big wide world. We also breathe calmly during an expressive pause in our speech.

Many of us need to train ourselves to move away from a stressful, shallow, high-in-the-chest breath, which often accompanies nervousness or tiredness. In its place we want to breathe using our full lung capacity so that our breath is anchored lower in the body and brings poise. This is the kind of breathing that gives you control over your voice and lets you sound soft or loud as needed. 

When you are giving a sales presentation remember you need your breath to be free to carry your voice to person furthest away. Good breathing and good posture will go a long way to achieving this.

Managing multiple phone calls
It can be a challenge to maintain vocal interest if you are on the phone for many hours in a day. This is compounded if you have to stick to a script or repeat formal information, such as details of a standard contract.

It is possible to succeed and sound engaging even in these circumstances. When you make the call, focus on a warm, sincere greeting – no need to overdo it, but think warmth and a smile. In fact, your thoughts and facial expression reflect directly in the tone of your voice.

Keep your upbeat, client-focused approach. Hold the attitude that you are sharing information with your client. Monitor yourself. Notice if you start ‘talking at them’ and switch back to ‘sharing with them’. This will help you maintain a professional yet conversational tone of voice, which maximises a sense of personal communication through any formalities. That way you will always leave the client as informed and satisfied as possible.

Listen to yourself
If you record your voice and listen back you’ll hear what you sound like to other people (we genuinely sound different to how we sound in our own heads). If your voice isn’t as interesting as you’d like, it’s time to play! One great way to improve your vocal variety is reading aloud. If you can read novels or children’s stories the challenge of creating different characters and moods with your voice will pay off.

And finally
There is no quick fix to finding vocal variety. Each of us has to practise a little and often to extend our abilities.

The path to vocal freedom and expression is an exhilarating one to take. I encourage you to follow my tips and you’ll find your recruitment career blossoms and business flows so much more easily.

Andrew P Bennett is from Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations.

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