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Voice Tips For Effective Speaking

Most of the communicating sales professionals do is wordless.  The moment you enter the presence of another person you start communicating.  Your physique,  your clothing, jewelry, voice qualities, facial expressions, posture and many other factors pass along important information.  They give information or clues as to social, marital and financial status, your sex, and personal taste.

When you speak, your voice speaks in ways that go beyond words.  Your accent may give away your national or regional origin.  Your tone of voice will tell people whether you feel elated or sad, excited or bored.

Through verbal communication, people learn about your thoughts, ideas, products, and services.  Through non-verbal communication, they learn about your feelings.

About 93% of your communication is non-verbal.  Much of it is unconscious, but you can bring a great deal of your wordless communication under conscious control.

Often, how we say things conveys more meaning than what we say.  In fact, voice quality is said to convey about 38% of your meaning.

When George Bush ran for president in 1988, he hired a voice coach to help him lower his voice an octave.  Why?  Because the candidate's high-pitched voice had helped saddle him with the "wimp" image, even though Bush had proved his valor as a Navy combat pilot during World War II.

Fairly or unfairly, we impute strength and confidence to the person who speaks with a low-pitched, well-modulated voice.  When the voice rises to a high pitch, we sense excitement, panic, and lack of control.  That doesn't mean that we should all go around cultivating baritone voices.  It simply means that each of us should use the lower end of the voice range when we want to communicate calmness, confidence and competence.

We convey feelings, moods and attitudes through a variety of voice qualities, which are sometimes called paralanguage.  Among these qualities are volume, pace, intonation, stress and juncture.

Volume and Pace

Volume and pace should be used in a careful, controlled way.  These qualities can work in unison to achieve powerful effects, especially when selling and persuading from the public platform.  You can let your voice rise to a crescendo, the pace and volume quickening until you reach a peak of excitement.  Or you can drop to a dramatic whisper. 

Volume should always be great enough that you can be heard by everyone you're trying to reach with your voice.  When addressing a group through a microphone, that generally presents no problem for you.  When speaking without a microphone, keep checking the people farthest from you for signs that they're straining to hear, or indications that their attention is straying.

Pace should be adapted to the message.  Some simple but telling points can be made effectively in rapid-fire sequence.  Others can be made by slowly drawing out the words, or by long pauses to let the points sink in. 


Intonation refers to the voice pitch.  We usually speak in a range of pitches from low to high.  The range between high and low intonations varies from individual to individual, and from one linguistic population to another.  The English generally have a greater range than do Americans.


Stress is another important element of paralanguage.  The way you emphasize words can change the meaning of your sentences.

As you speak, be conscious of the effects of sense stress on the meaning you're trying to convey.  Use stress to help your listener understand the sense in which you use words and to show which words you consider to be important.


Juncture refers to the way vowels and consonants are joined in the stream of speech.  If you listen to someone speaking in a foreign language, it sounds like a continuous flow of syllables.  That's because you haven't learned to recognize the signs that tell you where one word stops and another begins. 

Speakers of other languages have the same problem comprehending English.  As I've spoken on different continents, I've formed a great admiration for the translators who have had the task of rendering my speech into other languages.  Once I was translated simultaneously into seven different languages.  Either my juncture was good or my translators were superb.  The audiences laughed at the appropriate points and applauded at the appropriate points.

Inattention to juncture can make your speech indistinct or hard to understand.  If you tell a carpenter to build a greenhouse, make sure that you don't end up with a green house.  The difference in appearance and cost can be substantial.  If you ask your secretary to get you the night rate and have it on your desk the next morning, be sure it doesn't sound like "nitrate."  Otherwise, you may find a sack of fertilizer in your "in" basket.

 copyright Nido R Qubein 

For more on this topic, we recommend the following:
How To Communicate Like A Pro (six CD set)

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"Nido has condensed the essence of effective communication into an easy to use, simple, practical series of ideas that can be used anywhere." - Brian Tracy

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