We speak every day without fully recognizing the impact our voice has on the our success and that of our organizations. The voice that picks up the company telephone or speaks to the customer or supplier represents that organization, whether it's the receptionist, sales person, human resource rep, general manager or CEO. Everyone creates a vocal impression of the company they work for.
It is said that when a person is sight-impaired, all other senses are heightened. They hear more sharply, they smell and taste more intensely and the sense of touch is enhanced. When we communicate over the telephone the communication skills we are left with need to become more enhanced – they are now more critical for our success. Unlike our body, however, our skills will not be enhanced on their own. We need to take active steps to achieve our goals.
There are two areas that directly impact your vocal impression: your voice and your words. Your voice must be clearly understood by everyone who listens to you. On the telephone this becomes even more critical as there is not the accompanying body language you have in a face to face situation
Make sure you enunciate your words clearly. Avoid slang and poor grammar. Make your voice as expressive as your face. Your voice has wonderful nuances and shadings to give meaning to the words you use, providing you let it. For example, read aloud a passage from a favorite book. Does your voice conjure up images or feelings? To use your voice effectively in business, you’ll need to use the same skills. An expressive voice creates a comfortable atmosphere in which to conduct business. Your expression can help create a sense of urgency; or instill confidence in yourself and your products.
Don’t overlook the importance of enthusiasm in your voice. Enthusiasm is contagious – it will catch on. A simple way to increase the enthusiasm in your voice is to keep a smile on your face. It has a side benefit of helping to make your voice sound more pleasant to listen to.
Check your volume. If you speak too softly, you’ll appear to be timid. Besides, no one will hear you. If you speak too loudly, you’ll be thought of as aggressive and pushy. Strive for a middle ground. Try to create a sense of familiarity by mirroring the rate of speech of the person you’re speaking with. Speed up or down as necessary. However, avoid speaking too quickly or too slowly. Remember you want to make sure your words are understood.
The words we use in conversation can and should be used to strategic advantage. Chances are you handle the many of the same situations on a regular basis. Give yourself some help and write out responses in advance. This allows you to pay special attention to the words you are using. Make sure you have a clear objective of what you want to accomplish on a call. Having an objective allows you to focus on what you want to say. When you phrase your words in advance it makes it easier to get the response you want.
Above all, make it effortless for your listener to understand you. Good vocal technique combined with good word usage makes it easier to conduct business successfully.
There are many ways to help improve your vocal impression and create a voice for success. First, listen to yourself. Find a tape recorder and tape yourself. Listen to your voice objectively. Does you voice convey your message? Is your rate of speech appropriate? Second listen to the person you are speaking with. What are they saying? What are they omitting? How are they reacting to you? Finally, put it together. Make a plan of action for your success. Choose no more that 2 areas at a time to work on.
Think about what you like and don’t like your telephone voice. If necessary, don’t be afraid to think about professional voice coaching or presentation skills training. Every one admires a great voice. Better yet, everyone listens to an effective voice. Make yourself (and your message) heard!