The voice as an instrument

“I have never heard a ‘bad’ voice… every human voice has thrilling potential waiting to be discovered and unleashed.” Patsy Rodenburg How many times have you heard someone say, “I hate it when I hear myself on my answerphone message or get to see myself on video!”?  Almost everyone feels strange about this yet only a very few people ever bother to train and develop the power of this persuasive communication tool – the voice. The voice is an instrument each of us possesses.  It is housed by our body and produced and projected using its physical structure and our minds. If you want to have a reliable voice then, like a winning athlete, you should train it to keep it strong, flexible, expressive and free. The three key elements to focus on are breath, posture and projection. 1.  Breath: Breathe deeply and normally: surprisingly when you are nervous you can forget to do this properly. Take a deep breath between sentences: this aids relaxation and allows time for your audience to absorb your ideas and for you to organise your thoughts. Correct supported breath improves your ability to send your messages fluently: sentences broken by nervous breaths risk being confusing for your listener. 2.  Posture Make sure you stand or sit in a comfortable but upright position: this ensures your voice can find a way out without struggling. Relax and banish tension: this is especially true for the jaw, neck, shoulders or chest, as tension in these area restricts the freedom of the sounds you make and decreases your expressive ability. Keep your head high: this enables you to...

Voicing your feelings

“Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about it.” Jim Rohn Your voice can and does play a huge part in transmitting your feelings to others. Do not hesitate to show warmth, sincerity or passion so that the messages you send are more convincing. If YOU believe in what you have to say and let it show through the tone and emotion in your voice, this will greatly improve the chances that your listener will feel your emotion and be more persuaded by your convictions. 10 top tips to share your feelings: Believe in yourself and manage how you express your ideas so they can be perceived as positive and constructive. Create compelling visions that will allow you to be sincere and confident about your opinions and how you express them. Use words that you fully understand – in this way you will be free to express your true feelings clearly. Adopt an upright stance and posture – being centred and relaxed reduces confusing or distracting movement and conveys confidence, inspiring trust in your listener. Make sure your voice is relaxed and free – this will allow your feelings to ‘colour’ its power, tone and pitch. Make sure your non-verbal signals are ‘congruent’ with your message – that they reflect what you feel rather than contradict it Use gestures carefully – be clear, strong and simple – then they will emphasise key points you make. Show you can see the other person’s perspective; watch for and respond to non-verbal signals from your listener – mirroring their stance and attitude can be a subtle persuader...

The communication cycle

Communication is commonly talked about in terms of a cycle. In any communication, the principal characters are known as the sender and the receiver: Ideas exist in the sender’s brain as electrochemical neuron systems, not words. Encoding is what happens when we convert these electrochemical impulses to sounds (or writing) – words and sentences so they can be transmitted. Decoding is what happens at the other end – the receiver’s brain converts the bits of sound back to electrical impulses If communication succeeds, the sender’s exact (or close) ideas end up in the receiver’s brain as electrical energy ready for decoding. Responsibility for successful communication lies with the person transmitting the...

Transmit clearly and simply

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” Napoleon Hill Even though we all do it daily and mostly without a second thought, communication is often a risky business. Without careful planning, and especially under stress or when we are nervous, we tend to unload too much information on our listener. They will then either be confused or just switch off. When you want to transmit your messages clearly, you are better off keeping things simple. 10 top tips for keeping it simple: Plan your messages carefully: tell them clearly at the start what you hope to achieve and the outcomes you need from them. Have a coherent structure: complex messages are harder to remember and open to misunderstanding. Only tell your listener what they need to know right now: focus on things that are relevant to the current discussion or decision. Make every word count: choose to express your ideas in vocabulary that your listener is likely to understand and be familiar with. Avoid ‘clever’ jargon, abbreviations or complicated explanations: no-one wants to be made to feel ignorant. Make it easy to follow your ideas: this holds attention and stops peoples minds wandering off-topic. A picture is worth a thousand words: use visual imagery to simplify complex points (analogies, metaphors, examples). Be open to questions: encourage your listeners to ask for clarification when they need it. Check frequently to ensure that the message you are sending is being received and understood in the way you intended Close with a key message or...