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Communication Skills Training - Voice Tone

Communication skills training - Voice tone

Your communication skills training should include some notes on the effect of your voice tone on others.

"Voice tone" relates to the musical aspects of your voice:

It pertains to pitch, volume, pace, and emphasis.
People respond instinctively to voice tone; either positively or negatively.

There are certain people who have a warm, attractive welcoming voice quality. Their voice tone has a positive effect on others. One of the best examples of a person with a good voice tone, in my opinion, was the actor Richard Burton.

I once heard him on the radio, reading names and addresses from the phone book. When he did it, it sounded really interesting.
There are others, who have a flat, monotone droning quality to their voice. They have a negative effect on others. Their voice quality switches off the mind of the listener.

Let us investigate some of the qualities that make the difference between good voice and not- so- good voice.

Good voice tone

Speak with a deeper tone

How does a deeper voice affect the listener?

Research done by the Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, USA indicates that people make instinctive judgements of others based upon the tone of the voice of the speaker. Specifically, people judge those with deeper voices as having more authority.

This is thought to be a throwback to an earlier time where status was based upon physical power and strength. Heavier, physically bigger people have deeper voices than smaller people. And bigger people were dominant, so deep voices were associated with higher status. And to a lesser degree, they still are. So a deeper voice lends more authority.

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Does this mean you should speak with a fake deep voice?

No. Everyone has a voice range. Our advice is to improve the impact of your message by using the lower end of your voice range.

Let's look at the opposite.
When you hear a high pitched or shrill voice, what is your emotional reaction?

A high pitched or shrill voice tends to have a negative effect on the mind of the listener. Generally, the person with the shrill voice is perceived to lack authority, and the tone can be irritating.

Variability of tones

A varied tone rises as falls and emphasis's key words and phrases.
A monotone voice has little variety, it stays at the same pitch and there is a lack of stress variation.
It is important to vary your voice tone, as opposed to being monotone.
When you vary your tone, you inject life and energy into your message.
Emotions like enthusiasm, humour and excitement are conveyed by the tone of your voice.
Think of people whom you regard as great communicators. Is it true that these people have a certain energy and dynamism in the way they use their voice?

Think of the opposite.
Do you know someone who has a flat, monotone, lifeless voice? When you hear that kind of voice, what effect does it have on your ability to focus on the content?

If a person has a flat, monotone voice, it has a negative effect on the communication doesn't it?
So the message is clear: Vary your voice tone.

Speak Slower

It is important to slow down, when giving a coaching or counselling session.
If a person speaks slower, it has a number of positive effects on the communication:

1. It gives the person listening enough time to 'digest' the message.

This is important because there is a distinction to be made between 'hearing' and 'understanding'.

Hearing is simply the automatic functioning of the ears.

Hearing does not take effort.
Understanding is the act of focusing the mind on the meaning of what is heard.
That is not automatic. It takes an effort of will to focus the mind on the meaning and to make it clear and distinct.
If you speak too fast, the person will hear you, but will not understand.

Give enough time for your message to sink in before delivering the next one.

2. When you slow down you have more time to select the right words and phrases to express your meaning exactly.

As a consequence of this, people who speak slightly slower are perceived by the listener to be more thoughtful; 'deeper'. Those who speak more quickly are perceived to be more confusing and 'lightweight'.

This is because, if you slow down, the implied message is that you are thinking before you speak. It implies that you are weighing up the evidence and giving careful consideration to your message. So, the person who pauses, and speaks at a slower pace tends to be perceived as more intelligent. Their message carries more weight.

For example: Obama speaks slowly during conferences. Is that accidental?
No. It is a conscious technique designed to make his message weightier and considered.

So, again, the point is clear: Slow down

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About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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Further Reading in Communication - Nonverbal Communication

  • What is Passive Behaviour in the Workplace?
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  • Are Hand Gestures Considered Aggressive?
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  • Personal Space - Proxemics
    Personal space is a form of non-verbal communication. It is important to recognise that the physical space surrounding each person has dedicated zones, which should be respected according to the rules of Proxemics, in order to gain trust.
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  • Effective Body Language
    Body language is an important part of being an effective communicator. You can make a positive impression with other people, when you learn to use good body language. Effective body language is well known to improve your self-confidence.
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