Confession time. I do not like writing about public speaking anxiety. The subject is over-saturated,…
If you think you believe that one’s voice doesn’t influence anything, ponder this for a moment.
Have you ever found someone’s voice amusing, threatening, annoying, or boring? Most people will answer, yes.
Have you ever dismissed someone’s authority based on how their voice sounds? This one is trickier because most people are unaware when they are dismissing someone based on the sound of their voice alone. That is because the decision to accept someone as an authority or not is far more complicated than we think.
Our acceptance of someone as an authority is related to societal norms, our own biases and experiences, and that person‘s ability to shift our perception of them. As speakers, we cannot address that which is hard-wired but we can train our voices to encourage our listeners in one direction or another.
Most speakers already understand that the work of effective speech is information and influence in equal parts. To that end, much time is spent in the development of quality content. The voice itself is often ignored or reduced to a volume choice. It is then confusing to some why their quality content is falling flat. It goes directly back to the questions we asked at the top this article.
If the voice you use to present is not clear, balanced, and authoritative, your content will not save you.
So what are the markers of speech that really influences people?
The first place to start is making sure the voice you use is the best option you have so checking in with breath support, physical alignment and projection is a must.
Second, is making sure that the voice you use matches the person presenting. This is important because our brain is making split-second relational connections between tone, content, and the speaker. Any incongruity makes the listener mistrust the message. Importantly, studies indicate that the relationship between the speaker and the voice trumps the language or content (See: The neural integration of speaker and message and The communicative style of a speaker can affect language comprehension).
Finally, nuance in the deployment of one’s voice can be used to amplify the message within the content. An expressive voice is the real power behind many of the iconic speeches we remember from “I have a Dream” to “Yes, we can”. Some people are born with remarkable voices and even they learn to craft their voices further into instruments of communication.
Most dynamic speakers are trained, not born.
So to answer our original question, the voice of authority is your authentically produced voice trained to use the vocal tools of projection, tone, color, and pacing. An authentic presentation of yourself in sound. Why do you need one?
Because your message matters and it should be heard.