Manage episode 256547244 series 2553835
Six Ways Leaders Can Find Their Voice
Why are so few business leaders good communicators, given all the education they have received, starting at varsity and then later, through their organisations? Here are six things to work on.
- When we speak using a monotone delivery, placing equal stress on each word, regretably, our audience just tunes us out.They start to look for other points of stimulation, such as how we are dressed, our body language, our voice quality – almost everything except the actual key message content.
Leaders need to match their vocal variation and facial expression to the message being delivered. Congruency means emphasising key words or phrases, through either adding or subtracting voice projection. Whispering is as powerful as yelling, as long as the message content is aligned with the delivery mechanism.
- Leaders are often notable for speaking while exhibiting a “wooden face”, meaning they maintain the same facial expression throughout their talk. Good, striking, even exceptional news is greeted with the same expression as announcing disaster, doom and gloom.
The simple rule is, if it is good news, let your face know and smile or show happiness. If it is bad news, look serious, worried, upset or fearful depending on the content and context.
- Voice speed can be an indicator of confidence or terror. Most of us, when nervous, tend to speed up and our ideas can rapidly begin to overtake each other. Pausing is needed to allow the audience to process what they have just heard.
- We can also speak using our body. The turn of our head allows us to become inclusive and capture all of our audience, no matter where they are seated. The front, middle, back, the sides – the leader makes eye contact to engage with people in all parts of the room. Eye contact means actual engagement – looking an audience member in the eye and speaking to them for around 6 seconds. Less than that makes for a rather fleeting perfunctory type of engagement. Locking on to their gaze for much longer starts to burn into their retina and becomes uncomfortable.
- Pointing our feet straight forward using only our neck to swivel our head and engage the audience is projecting confidence, credibility and solidity. Often times, speakers are unconsciously facing their feet such that they are favouring only one side of the room. Slouching, standing off balance or nervously striding about the stage may not be projecting the professional image leader’s desire.
- We either overemploy our gestures or we don’t deploy them at all.Behind our back, resting on our hips, thrust deeply into trouser pockets, held protectively in front of our body are the usual suspects in the crime of neglect of our hand’s communication strength when speaking.
Leaders need their own voice to fully reach their audience, to persuade, to inspire, to be credible and memorable. You are the brand and what you say and how you say it matters. Be congruent, authentic and be the professional you.