If you are in a management or consulting job, like me, chances are that you spend a lot of your day talking.
Hopefully you spend some time thinking about what you are saying (this might not be as obvious as it sounds ;-), but most likely you don’t really think about how you are saying it.
Yet to get your point across the “how” is almost as important as the “what”.
If you have a deep voice, you might tend to mumble or growl, which means you are hard to understand or come across as negative, even if you might not intent to.
If you have a high voice, you might accidentally squeak or scream, which means you come across as unsecure or hysterical.
Of course, the first thing to do is to make sure that you articulate well enough for people to be able to hear what you are saying. After that though, you should pay attention to how you are saying things.
I don’t have a high voice for a woman. However even when I was a teenager, if I would get a bit overexcited, my dad would ask me where my broomstick was. And you just know if your dad thinks you sound like a witch, your co-workers and customers will feel the same way. To come across as someone who’s in control, self-confident and has some authority, I must ensure that I keep the pitch of my voice down. No squeaking. That’s not always easy. Sometimes emotions run high and if that happens my voice tends to follow.
While it’s important to keep the pitch of your voice down, you should also ensure that you don’t sound monotonous. Especially if you are talking for a longer period of time, like when you’re presenting, it’s important to keep it lively and to slightly vary the pitch and the volume of your voice while telling your story. This will help to keep people interested and awake. No guarantees though, I’ve had people catch up on sleep while I was presenting more than once!
If you are due to present to a group of people you have the opportunity to practice what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. To most people, me included, it’s unpleasant to hear the sound of your own voice, but recording yourself is still the best way to improve your presentation skills.
If you are in a meeting in which you want to get your point across, you usually don’t have the opportunity to practice what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. This means you should stay alert and be kind to yourself. I sometimes get emotional and let out a squeak. Or I raise my voice to get my point across.
When that happens I try to take a deep breath. There’ll be other meetings and more opportunities to practice and improve!