This anecdote beautifully illustrates one of the most important reasons you may not be advancing in your career.
The director of operations for a small IT company, who was taking my online Speaking Voice Workshop, shared this comment. “I am currently hiring new people and many of the applicants look great on paper, however, when I interview them they are difficult to understand”. “I myself am an Israeli with an accent; however I am in this workshop to speak even better”.
He continued to say that both he & his CEO believed that speech and communication were extremely important business drivers for their company’s success. I asked if he ever told these applicants that the reason they were not hired was because they couldn’t be easily and readily understood. The answer, No!
It goes without saying, that success in your chosen profession takes talent, education and hard work. However confident communication, no matter if you are a native or non-native speaker, is most certainly equally important. The goal: to guarantee your career advancement by being easily understood by your employer, fellow employees, clients and customers.
There are several reasons why unclear speech isn’t obvious to the speaker? Many people take their speech for granted, and think of their speaking voice as something that happens automatically, like walking, seeing, or breathing. Many people ask if it is possible to change their speaking voice after so many years. Absolutely, yes! And it is relatively easy to do.
You need to identify your speaking problems, become aware of how to change your speech and then practice, practice, and practice the exercises. It takes about 3-4 months of practice with a voice and speech coach to permanently change your speaking voice.
Talking too softly is the second reason you may not be advancing in your career. If an audience or an individual can’t hear you easily, they don’t pay attention. And without their attention it is hard to be persuasive and influential in a business meeting, a sales presentation, or while closing a sale.
There are various reasons that people speak too quietly, however in the highly competitive business world you need to be heard, “loud and clear”. People pay attention to your message when you are a confident, knowledgeable and persuasive speaker.
Again you may think this is common sense, why isn’t it obvious to the speaker? Because most people just don’t think to tell you about your speech, unless it is your manager in a performance review at work. Many of my clients have been told that they didn’t sound assertive enough to be promoted. Your friends just think it is the way you talk and they don’t want to insult you by saying anything. Many times in voice workshops, people tell me, “I am shy and that is why I speak softly”. “Can I still change the way I speak”.
Data Dumping and talking too fast is the third way your speech will stop your career. The name data dumping implies that you are saying all the relevant information on a particular subject as fast as possible with very little regard for your listener and whether or not he/she understands you and your message. When “data dumpers”, stop to check in with the audience, the listeners have missed so much that they don’t know what to ask. A confident, powerful and persuasive speaker speaks at a pace that allows the listener to comprehend the entire message.
The quickest and most accurate way is find out if your voice is holding your back from advancing in your career is sign up for a free professional speaking voice analysis. If people ask you to repeat yourself continually that is most often a sign that you have a speaking issue. Finally you can also record yourself giving a presentation or your side of a telephone conversation and have a friend listen and give an opinion as to whether your speech is:
- 1. Unclear.
- 2. Soft spoken, and/or
- 3. Too fast.
Sandra McKnight offers a free 25-minute Voice Power Studios foreign accent reduction & speaking skills consultation, or call 877-783-2455.