Years ago, I attended a lecture by Bruce Lipton, celebrated cell biologist, a warm human being, the forerunner in the Science of Epigenetics, and author of the 2005 book The Biology of Belief. He began by stating that 95% of our behavior is controlled by subconscious programs acquired before the age of six and that neuroscience has established that the conscious mind is in charge only about 5% of the time.
This means that subconscious programs such as walking, eating, speaking, etc. function outside the conscious mind and therefore often make our everyday decisions without us even noticing. (It’s part of his rather radical yet intuitively appealing idea that beliefs control human biology rather than DNA and inheritance.) These subconscious programs, he says, originate from our parents, family, and community and often are limiting and many times disempowering.
Or as Brianna Wiest pointed out in Forbes several years ago, your subconscious is “presenting you with repeated thoughts and impulses that mimic and mirror that which you’ve done in the past. And that “just as your brain is built to regulate your physical self . . . [it’s also there to] regulate your mental self.”
As I see it, this is why so many business professionals tell me that they don't like the sound of their voice. They grew up with all of these subconscious “influencers.” And how they want to change their voice and change the way people feel about them. Not just people but their supervisors, their clients, the people they’re trying to convince that what they’re asking people to do is worth doing.
When people want to change their voice, it says to me that their conscious mind has decided to reprogram their subconscious speaking behavior. They have decided to take control of their subconscious by asking it to become aware of the speaking skills needed to speak easily and clearly and confidently. Given a new awareness and the time to practice the speaking skills, the subconscious is perfectly willing to get on board. You can reprogram your speaking pattern and habits permanently.
This was exactly the case for one of my clients, a man whose tone was very easily affected by his mood—mostly one of feeling totally overwhelmed on a daily basis. He told me that it was very difficult, almost impossible, for him to sound continually engaging when dealing with co-workers and clients. I told him á la Lipton that it was his belief that the content of his message was more important, and that this was what was keeping him from placing much value on being engaging.
I suggested he start using voice inflection and modulation in his daily speech, which would make him sound more engaging, even though inside he may have been feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.
The speaking skills of inflection and modulation were the tipping point for him to change his longstanding speaking pattern and rid himself of the associated disempowering belief that it wasn’t really necessary for him to connect with the person to whom he was speaking. He started to realize that connecting with people by using his voice inflection and modulation made both his professional and personal relationships more meaningful, enjoyable, and productive.
Your voice is an important tool that carries your message to your client. To think that you’re forever stuck with the voice you have now, that you can’t change the way you speak. Nonsense! You can. You can train your voice to work for you. I can show you how to train, or retrain, your speaking voice—so that the even just sound of your voice will make you confident and persuasive.
Recently I was asked to talk about voice, speaking and communication with Priyesh Ramman for his podcast, Your Trainee Program.
Priyesh represents, to me, the exact type of client I like to work with: someone eager, ambitious, openminded, self-aware, and willing to put in the time and effort it takes to change one’s speaking voice for the better.
Priyesh believes that it’s not only knowledge that leads to power, but that human interaction is the key to getting ahead, finding out what your true path is, being more effective at what you do. Priyesh, then, was already more amenable to working on the how as the what.
How means that you have to say the right thing, of course—that’s the what—but what really matters is the how: you have to say it well. How you say something is often more important than what you say. Studies have shown that what listeners really take away from a conversation or a speech is based 80 percent on one’s voice tone and 20 percent on the actual words.
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Joan, the marketing VP of a national telecommunications company called me recently, asking me to help her “spiff up” her company’s sales people. As Joan put it, “The reps are not closing the sales, the morale is low, and we’re turning over people every couple of months. Your website says, “You too can use your voice to increase your company sales and your reps’ commissions. If you can do that, I will hire you to train 250 salespeople.”
I told her I could. She hired me. And this is how I did it and what happened.
The first thing I told Joan was basically what Laura Lake, now a senior manager of integrated marketing for T-Mobile, stated in a piece she’d done for The Balance Small Business. “We are all born with our voices, but they can, in fact, be trained.”
So, yes, we use what we are born with, but we can also modify and train what we have. We can make ourselves better, more effective communicators. And it all starts with our voices.
And in sales, voices are pretty much everything. (Not many people have had success selling something with semaphore or charades.) However, as good as many salespeople are, most don’t realize how much more they could sell if they paid more attention to how they are saying it. As was the case with Joan and her sales team, they didn’t even realize their very own voices were sabotaging their relationships with their customers.
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As the famous American song says, “Make someone happy and you will be happy too!” But making someone else happy just with the sound of your voice? Really? Yes, really and truly. When you convey happiness to others through the sound of your speaking voice it’s amazing how quickly that sound affects them. Your happy voice can give the momentary gift of hope to others and it is a powerful way to communicate confidence and inspire others to be confident as well.
“Voice has a lot to do with how we interact with each other,” Maraliz Campos, a certified sound practitioner and meditation instructor, tells Bustle. “One of the most immediate ways to influence the vagus nerve—the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system that has both sympathetic and parasympathetic functions—is through auditory stimulation. Therefore, the sounds we hear have a direct impact on our stress levels causing us to gravitate to sounds and voices that are pleasurable.”
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2020 brought substantial changes in many directions — personal and professional. But the ever-resilient business world adapted quickly. One major change, which seems to have stuck, is working from home. And a large part of that virtual workday involves communicating with coworkers and clients via business video-conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet.
Unless you are an A-list actor, though, you likely feel a bit self-conscious about being on video. You are hardly alone. A 2016 study by Highfive and Zobgy Analytics found that 59 percent of people feel more self-aware when on-camera than they do in their off-camera life at the office.
These days everyone is selling, negotiating, facilitating, mediating, and giving presentations on live video. Few things are more annoying than not being able to see or hear someone in a video conference. But those small images and having everyone on mute with their cameras turned off make it difficult to assess audience response or to create audience interaction.
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