The speech messages you deliver in words are accompanied by vocal messages. The manner in which the words are spoken often makes the message clear and understandable. The vocal tones which accompany words may affect the acceptance the listener has of the message.
For example, because your voice is an audible representation of your physical and emotional state, the vocal tones may reinforce positively the words you speak. Or the tone may send a conflicting, negative, message. Think of how these words would sound if spoken in tired, unenthusiastic tones:
“Yes, it is a great opportunity with a lot of growth potential.”
Would you believe the words or the vocal message sent by that voice?
In contrast, the same words spoken in a vibrant, clear, enthusiastic manner will be enhanced by the sound of your voice. The sound of the voice – the music behind the words – frequently conveys the meaning. Our voices provide additional meaning to the words we speak. We add a vocal message to the verbal message.
There are five vocal aspects which accompany the verbal message and affect how the words you say with your voice are perceived. These are:
3. Volume (or Intensity)
Together they affect your voice and your verbal message.
1. Pitch is the highness or lowness of the sound of the voice. People tend to respond favorably to relaxed, controlled, well-pitched (neither too high nor too low) voices. Tension and stress affects your pitch – the more stress and tension the higher your voice. So relax! But don’t stay at one pitch – monotone is boring – let your voice rise and fall in varied patterns of pitch like it does in normal conversation; when you show some excitement or happiness and even concern. If you are reading from a script often your voice will flatten out and become monotonous in pitch. The secret for improvement is to make reading sound like conversation – create the music behind the words!
2. Rate is the speed and timing in which the words and sounds are spoken. Each person has a normal rate of speaking which is adjusted to various situations. Some people think and speak slowly. Others use a rapid overall rate. It is important that the timing of spoken words are consistent with the message delivered and with the listeners for whom the message is designed. Remember, words are not encoded one by one; but spoken in phrases – groups of sounds – separated by pauses of different lengths. Some phrases spill out rapidly, others move crisply. Some sounds are drawn out and the whole group of sounds is delivered slowly. This variety is easy to listen to and variation in rate and timing helps you express meaning. You do this naturally and beautifully in ordinary conversation. You can carry this over to recruiting with some practice.
3. Volume or intensity is the loudness and softness with which words are spoken. It is annoying to be unable to hear a speaker through the telephone or across a table. An effective voice should be as loud as the occasion demands. Not all phrases are delivered with the same intensity because they would tend to sound the same. Some words or ideas are spoken with greater force or intensity; some with less. This contrast keeps the listener’s attention. Variety in volume is very desirable in recruiting. Dropping to a quieter tone, building to an intense climax, or emphasizing important ideas (by saying them louder or pausing before or after them) creates listener interest.
4. Quality is those characteristics of a voice which make it unique to the individual. Can you answer a telephone and identify a client or candidate by voice alone? Can you even identify the mood of the person by the sound of the voice? The same is true for you. Your physical condition, your vocal mechanism, your feelings and emotions and the way your voice resonates give you a unique vocal quality. If you are careful to use your resonators (throat, nose, and mouth) openly and let your tones be relaxed and pleasing, your voice will add positive dividends to your marketing and recruiting calls.
5. Enunciation is the clarity which the sounds are produced – how clearly you pronounce or articulate the words. Pronunciation is the acceptable sound of the words and Articulation is using the intricate adjustments of organs in the mouth that changes the voice sounds into intelligible sounds. The primary organs used are: lips, tongue, jaw, teeth, hard palate (hard roof of the mouth) and soft palate (soft, back roof of the mouth). When vocal sounds are slurred or faulty it is difficult to understand the message. Consonants that supply crispness and punch are lost. Vowels that add richness and melody are distorted.
Try listening to your voice recorded. Do you like the way you sound? Does the resonance seem balanced and rich? Or does it sound thin and flat? With practice you can improve your voice quality and become a great speaker.