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Vocal Techniques That Attract

How we say the words we choose is just about as important as the words themselves. Our voice is a powerful instrument that can motivate the troops or lull them to sleep. There is a huge difference between presenting and persuading. Your voice is a complete arsenal of persuasive techniques in and of itself. For example, you can say the same thing but mean five different things, depending on the tone of your voice. You can say "Thank you" laden with sarcasm, love, hate, anger, humor, or surprise--just by changing the tone and inflection of your voice.

Peter Blanck, in his research, found that judges communicated their bias and attitudes by the tone of their voice. The juries in California were twice as likely to convict trial defendants when the judges already knew the defendants had a record and prior convictions. The law simply states that the judge cannot share this private information with the jurors. Researchers found that when (judges) the judge gave the instructions to the jury, his words and tone of voice lacked warmth, patience, and tolerance. You can change your rate of speech, your vocal fillers (um, uh, ah), the volume, pitch, inflection, emphasis, and even the pauses that you use.

You can keep an audience listening with both ears and with full energy, rendering them absolutely spellbound because of the power of your voice. Your voice is who you are. It is your trademark and your calling card. Your voice must exude energy, confidence, and conviction. We tend to judge others by their voice: Is it confident, nervous, relaxed, energized, tired, weak, or strong? If you sound unsure and timid, your ability to persuade will falter. Persuasive voices have great volume, varied emphases, good articulation, and a pleasing pitch. Master Persuaders use vocal variety and frequently vary their pace. The good news is you can change many characteristics of your voice. Tape your voice. What does it project? Your voice must be interesting and easy to listen to in order to help, rather than hinder, your ability to persuade.

Does your voice work for you or against you? PACE refers to how quickly you speak. Mehrabian and Williams found that people who spoke faster, louder, and more fluently as well as those who varied their vocal frequency and intensity were perceived as more persuasive than those who did not. Speeches delivered at fast speeds are more persuasive than those of slow or moderate speeds, because persuaders who speak faster appear more competent and knowledgeable. At these faster rates, receivers are not able to mentally engage in counter-arguing. Pace and SPEED are also important to keep and capture attention. We can think three times faster than we can speak. We have all had conversations and were able to listen while thinking of other things. When we speak faster, we can keep attention longer. There is less time for our audience’s mind to wander. Studies show that we generally like faster speakers and find them more interesting.

Most speakers average 120 to 180 words per minute. But there is no ideal speed. Franklin Roosevelt spoke 110 words per minute while John Kennedy raced along at 180 words per minute. Persuasive speakers will speak fast enough to excite and energize the mood of the audience but will be able to slow their pace down to create a mood of anticipation. FILLERS can destroy your presentation, hurt your credibility, and annoy your audience. Most people feel they don’t have a problem with this, and most of them are wrong. You would be amazed when you tape yourself what words you use to fill in space during a speech. Fillers are not acceptable and need to be eliminated from all speech. Vocal fillers include the common "um," "er," and "uh." Some people have their own idiosyncratic way of filling in the silence between ideas that makes them uncomfortable.

Some repeat the first two or three words of a sentence until their brain catches up and they decide what they’re going to say. Others might say, "Okay" at the end of every sentence, as if they’re checking audience comprehension. PITCH is the highness or lowness of the speaker’s voice. Low is best. In our culture, deeper voices are generally interpreted as reflecting authority and strength, for both men and women. In addition, a deeper voice is stereotypically considered to be more believable, indicative of an individual’s sincerity and trustworthiness. Some speakers even drink hot tea before they speak, a technique that creates a lower sounding voice. Remembering to employ variety in your speaking is a constant challenge, but it is of paramount importance. You can help people remain alert and pay attention while you speak if the pitch of your voice rises and falls.


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