Communication is about more than just words, although I contend words are powerful and words matter! Last weekend, I had the opportunity to focus on sound as a component of communication at a virtual event - Roger Love's Voice of Success. Three days full of how to use your voice to make more of an impact. I came away with many insights.
Sound is indeed a key component of communication. Delivered effectively, sound can make or break the impact of your words. If the words and sounds don't match, it will cause dissonance for the listener. How you sound is how you are perceived. Albert Mehrabian, a pioneer researcher of body language in the 1950's, found that the total impact of a message is about 7 percent verbal (words only) and 38 percent vocal (including tone of voice, inflection, and other sounds) and 55 percent nonverbal.
Catching and holding people's attention these days is a challenge. It is likely a function of the information overload we are subjected to each day and the rise of social media scrolling. A key to capturing and holding attention in a presentation is variation. Lucky for us, there are multiple elements to choose from, including pitch, pace, tone, melody and volume.
Try recording yourself and listening to your delivery. Yes, I know, we all hate to listen to ourselves, but truly, there is value here. Make sure you are not monotone in your delivery. Speaking on the same note will bore your audience and cause them to tune out, regardless of the awesome words you are trying to share. Maybe there is too much air in your voice, making people not want to take you seriously. Perhaps your delivery is monotone, loud and fast. Yikes, you sound angry!
While you are listening to yourself, see if you add in the dreaded fillers. Ums, in particular. Guess what? There is a cure! Silence. It turns out fillers are our way to try to keep attention while our brains decide what to say next. Americans are especially uncomfortable with silence. A pause is actually effective. It allows your listener a chance to process what you have said.
There is so much more to learn. You might want to check out Is Your Voice Ruining Your Life? TedX talk that Roger gave a few years ago. As a lifelong learner, this was a great way to enhance my communication skills. Keep learning, my friends!!