I have a soft voice. I remember when I was 18 years old, I phoned a local business to enquire if they had any job openings. After introducing myself in my “professional voice”, the lady on the other end of the line asked if I was phoning to speak to my “mummy”! I was so shocked and offended that somebody could think I was a child when I was trying so hard to put on my “ladylike voice” and sound professional to find a job. Although crushing at the time, that day turned out to be the exact jolt I needed to learn how to use my voice to project confidence, and also reflect my age!
Women naturally have softer voices than men, and we need to make a conscious effort to move our voice from “soft” and “girly” to “authoritative” and “decisive” if we want to be recognised in the corporate world. Today I want to share with you 5 tips that I’ve picked up during my journey of finding power in my voice. Ladies, I hope you find these tips helpful. Gentlemen, if you’re having trouble getting noticed in the workplace, you will no doubt find some of these tips to be useful for your own professional image as well.
Avoid the “Upswing”, “Uptalk” or “Upspeak”
When I say “upswing”, I’m talking about the noticeable rise of your voice at the end of a statement. Making a statement sound more like a question. You will often see teenagers speaking like this in Hollywood films. But as an adult, an “upswing” at the end of your sentence can make you sound childish, insecure and indecisive. These are not the qualities that will push you up the corporate ladder. Instead, make a conscious effort to push your voice down at the end of your sentences using what I like to call, a “downswing”.
Use Power Words
Power words make your sentences “pop”. They are full of rich ideas and strong emotions that help you get your message across in a more decisive and strong way. It’s just a matter of expanding your vocabulary and boosting your verbs and adjectives. Instead of saying, “You’re working really fast on those reports”, reduce the amount of words you use and add more “bang” to your sentence by saying “You’re flying through those reports”. Or instead of saying “She came up with a fantastic marketing idea”, say, “She masterminded our new marketing strategy”.
Speak Up and Over
The volume of your voice has a significant impact on how others perceive you. When you raise the volume of your voice, you raise the authority that you project. When you raise the authority that you project, you raise the impression and impact you have on others. I‘ve found that to increase the volume of my voice, all I need to do is breath deeper and push more air out of my lungs. Think of air pressure in your lungs as being the fuel for your voice. Try this at home by reading a novel aloud and imagine projecting your voice to the end of the room. Watch how the volume of your voice makes your body language bigger and makes you feel more elevated.
When you use shorter sentences, clearly constructed arguments, and you don’t mask your words with qualifiers or minimising language, you allow the importance of your thoughts and opinions to shine through.
- If you’re explaining something in detail during a meeting, try to break down your thoughts into bullet points in your mind. Use clear language such as “I think we can break this issue down into three parts. First…”. Everybody listening will feel they are following a mentally organised and decisive person; a leader in the making.
- Qualifying language such as “Maybe we should…” or “Perhaps we could…” can weaken your message. Instead, use sentences such as “I think…”, “I believe…”, or “I would like…”, and don’t be afraid to finish them off with your opinion.
- An opinion is something that women often do not feel comfortable giving. But your opinion, your thoughts, and your beliefs are how you will be noticed in the workplace.
Use the Other Person’s Name in Conversation
I’ve written about the importance of using another person’s name in conversation in a previous post “3 Steps to Remembering Names at Networking Events“ . Today I want to share with you a quote that I recently came across that sums it up perfectly:
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language” Dale Carnegie.
What does your voice say about you? Does it project authority and strength? Or do you feel you come across as uncertain or “girly”? I’d love to know what you do to add power to your voice! Please leave your comments in the section below.
*For the above header image, original image is courtesy of Pixomar/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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