When you try to balance the scales regarding how others perceive you, there is no doubt that your visual image has the most weight. Your content or verbal image has the least. The one aspect of your image which is often ignored is how you sound. Your vocal image accounts for more than a third of the overall image you project; and, that sound is what you hear on your voicemail or some other form of recording equipment – not the voice you hear in your head. |
Whenever I address an audience, I always ask them if they believe that their image has an impact on their business. Of course, everyone raises their hand in agreement. Then I ask how many have heard themselves on their voicemail. Again, everyone raises their hand. With my final question, I ask how many like what they hear. It is fascinating to see all those hands suddenly drop while the audience looks around sheepishly.
Yes, that sound which you may find embarrassing or humiliating is your vocal image. That is the sound by which everyone recognizes you. While this may not be a comforting thought, the good news is that you have a better voice inside of you which is resonant, warm, deeper in pitch, and more mature in quality. It is your real voice.
Whatever your business, you have something to sell and part of what sells is the image you project. If you know that your voice is nasal, high-pitched, wimpy, throaty, too soft, too loud, or any number of other less than flattering descriptions, then what is your vocal image saying about you? And, what about over the phone where there is no visual? How many times have you formed an opinion of someone just by the sound of his/her voice and were later surprised when you met that person face-to-face?
Your speaking voice is a tool and, if handled properly, can be one of your greatest assets. If others do not take you seriously because you sound like a teenager, then your vocal image is hindering your credibility. Perhaps you are soft-spoken and others constantly asked to repeat yourself. If this happens often enough, your listener will take over the conversation at which point your message is irrelevant.
The problem for the soft-spoken goes further than the fact that your listeners tire of straining to hear you. The problem is that your lack of volume may be sending the wrong message. A soft-spoken volume is often equated with insecurity, diffidence, or distrust. On the other hand, a voice which is too loud can also mislabel you as being overbearing, brutish, or even arrogant. One of my clients needed my help for his excessive nasality. His boss had told him that if he wanted to get ahead, he needed to do something about his voice. The change for this young man was astounding. Sean told me that he credited his new voice to “jump-starting his career.” He remarked, “After presenting the project status to a group of executives. I was offered a position in project management – a huge jump from my prior job function as a temporary low level employee.” When he later met with his previous boss, the latter stated, “I honestly feel more relaxed speaking with you….I feel as if you have matured 10 years.”
If your voice does not do you justice, consider voice training and change your vocal image forever.
The Voice Lady, Nancy Daniels, offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It! the only video training on voice improvement. If you would like to see a dramatic ‘before & after’ clip, visit Nancy’s Voice Training Website and check out Craig’s video.
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