Long ago and far away, as a student at Valparaiso University, I took a theology course with the Dean of the Chapel. I don’t remember his name – we hardly ever used it. We just called him “The Voice of God.”
He seemed to have the voice that God would speak in – deep, rich, resonant, authoritative.
Fact is, most people put more trust in a person with a lower voice. And that’s true for both men and women. An example of the research: in 40 years’ worth of presidential elections, the candidate with the lower voice won the popular vote every time.
Let’s say you don’t have that big, booming voice. (For instance, maybe you’re a woman.) Can you be a charismatic speaker anyway? Here are some steps to take.
Slow down already. For most of us, our pitch rises with our pace. So take it easy … slow yourself down and let your voice be more settled.
Give it a rest. People who pause while they’re speaking convey confidence and command. That might mean pausing for a beat at the end of a sentence … or even between phrases, where there would be a comma if you were writing instead of speaking.
And while you’re pausing, remember to breathe. You’ll look – and feel! – more comfortable if you breathe all the way into your belly. Your voice will be more fully supported. And don’t be a mouth-breather. You’ll want to inhale and exhale through your nose, to avoid sounding tense and breathless. (It’s healthier anyway – your nose is designed to filter the air you take in.)
Put a period on it. You hear people often? talking about something they’re supposed to know about? their business, for example? And saying everything as if it’s a question instead of a statement?
If you’re one of those people, it’s undermining your credibility. And you need to stop it. Now.
In American English, when the intonation goes up at the end of a sentence, listeners process what they’ve heard as a question. Even if that wasn’t your intention. When the intonation stays even, it’s a statement. And when it drops at the end of a sentence, we hear that as a command.
If you want to sound more confident and in-charge, lower your intonation at the end of a sentence. Or even at those mid-sentence pauses … just to let your strong presence sink in.
Let us hear you smile. We don’t just see the smile on your face; it comes across in your voice too. And it conveys warmth and friendliness and likability. Some people find it helps to have a mirror near their desk, as a reminder to smile when they answer the phone.
The wrap-up. Whether you’re looking for buy-in on a project at work, more customers or clients, or a new job … you’ll have more influence when you incorporate these suggestions and speak with more charisma.