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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tone, Pitch and Pace- 3 Important Aspects of Speaking

How we sound when we speak does influence others and I am not just talking about accents (although those do give out an impression) but rather the tone of your voice, its clarity, its passion and enthusiasm, its variances.

Think about how you talk to someone who is ill – gently and with compassion and understanding. Now think about how you greet an old friend across the street, or prevent a child from running out into the traffic. How do you sound when you scold someone or are short-tempered?

If you talk in a monotone you will sound dull and uninteresting; you will also lack credibility. The more credible you are the more persuasive you will be. No one is going to do anything if you ask them in a boring, quiet monotone!

So try varying the pitch and pace of your voice. Try enthusing it with some passion. A good way of practising this is to read aloud to young children because then you have to put in all the different voices or they very quickly get bored.

If you talk in a high pitched voice (mainly women) so that you sound like a little girl, you will also be less credible. Try slowing your voice down, don’t talk so quickly, take a few more breaths in between talking and lower your voice.

As a general rule speak with clarity, talk in a strong, steady voice neither shouting nor mumbling. If talking to a group of people then let your eye contact reach the person the furthest distance from you to ensure that you project it.

To build rapport with someone match the pace and tone of their voice. I don’t mean mimic them but if they speak softly and slowly then lower your voice and slow it down. If the other person speaks quickly, try and quicken up.

No matter what your message, present it in terms that are of interest to others. Think of who you are communicating with and then decide how you should pitch your voice and what sort of words to use. We are all aware of the person/people who talk jargon either to confuse us or to make us feel small, so make sure you don’t fall into this trap and if you are on the receiving end of this then don’t apologize, to them, for example: ‘I’m sorry, I don’t understand you’. It is their fault they are not explaining to you correctly so simply say, ‘What do you mean?’ pleasantly and not aggressively.

Believe you are worth listening to and convey that belief to others. The more passionate you are about your subject the more powerful your communication but beware you don’t get too carried away and forget your listener, you could be too enthusiastic and alienate them. Which brings us to our next chapter, listening.