"Is it possible to project your voice and not sound overly authoritative?"
Voice coaching is key to being a dynamic and confident business leader.
Whether you are giving a presentation, speaking in a business meeting, or in a telephone conference call, people will listen more readily when you speak with a confident, resonant, well-articulated voice. Why? Because a powerful, self-assured voice gets your message heard and inspires and persuades your audience to stay involved.
I am very pleased to have the opportunity to work with the business professionals who attend my Hong Kong Executive Speaking Skills workshop. Miss Teresa Yu, a senior management trainer for a Hong Kong banking institution, who is at the height of her career, very knowledgeable in her field, and who speaks both Cantonese and English fluently asked, “Is it possible to project your voice and not sound overly authoritative?”
“Miss Yu, “it all depends on your intention when you speak! Who is your audience for this presentation?” I responded.
“My speech is designed for the senior executives in the bank and my objective is to report on a new and innovative program that I hope they will adopt in the bank. I was in charge of the research on this program and have been asked to report on the program benefits and my recommendations for its implementation in our banking institution”.
“Great! Please start when you are ready.”
“Thank you, Miss Yu. “I didn’t hear your recommendation and the energy behind that recommendation that will guide your senior executives in making their decision. Your banking leadership needs to hear how much you believe in this new program”.
“I would never dare challenge my senior management”, she said emphatically. “It is only my duty to report the findings and not to influence or ever challenge the authority of the senior executives”.
Her gestures and voice tone, told me that she was embarrassed and a little bit angry that I would suggest that she change her intention toward her audience.
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“Why are you speaking to these people?” I ask very gently.
“Because it is the culmination of my research. I am required to report my findings. It is not my responsibility to tell the senior executives what to do. Respectfully, they will make their own decision. I have always conducted myself with the utmost professionalism.”
“Miss Yu, I respect and agree with your point of view on this. However, this workshop is a place to try new approaches and see if they might be applicable to your delivery style. I believe we are all learning all the time.”
“Absolutely”! Says Miss Yu.
“I am glad you agree. May I suggest that you speak with more vocal energy and enthusiasm? This approach will make the benefits of the program come alive in the minds and imagination of your bank executives. After all they have not had the benefit of all of your research. In order to make an informed decision, they need to be able to visualize how your bank will change for the better or worse if they institute this new program”.
“Please start at the beginning again. Remember, your voice will convey your enthusiasm for your material and convey that to the bank executives. For now, don’t worry how you may be interpreted. Concentrate on using your vocal energy and enthusiasm to make the benefits of the program come alive so that the executives can make their best decision.”
She begins and sees the reactions on the faces in her audience. They are really listening. They are interested and involved in her speech and she feels the power of the audience involvement.
After three minutes, I stop her and she exclaims, “This is great! The audience is really with me. It is a subtle difference, however it is so much easier to speak. I feel like I am in a dialogue. There is no wall between the audience and me. I have never ever felt that before in a presentation.”
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“You are absolutely right. You are doing brilliantly.” Please continue and add more descriptive adjectives when describing the benefits of the program. Let me show you with a totally unrelated example.
If I say, I drove to the store and bought a big cake you know the facts and probably will not retain the information.
However, if I say, It was a dark, rainy and sultry afternoon, when I got into my pink Cadillac and drove along the slick asphalt to buy a delicious chocolate mousse cake at the French bakery”, you will retain more because the many descriptive adjectives make the reality come alive in your imagination”.
She continues and now she is using her voice training to engage the audience in the story of a new and innovative program in which she totally believes. In Miss Yu’s mind, there is no longer a wall between her and the bank executives. She is making sure that the executives can visualize the program working in their institution.
“How do you feel Miss Yu?”
“I don’t feel that I am being too authoritative or challenging my audience. That was my great fear. I see that projecting a confident, dynamic voice allows me to engage my audience in a whole new way. My fear of not showing the proper respect is a non-issue.”
“Teresa, you have excellent presentation skills. Now you need to use your vocal energy, enthusiasm and descriptive adjectives to get your story heard. Remember your Voice is the powerful tool that carries the message forward and engages your audience.”
Your Voice is Power in Business whether the audience is 1 or 1000.
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