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Our voices matter as much as our words matter. They have the power to awaken the senses and lead others to act, close deals, or land us successful job interviews.
Through our voices, we create nuances of meaning, convey our emotions, and find the secret to communicating our executive presence.
The key lies in harnessing our voices using the principles of vocalics.
Vocalics primarily consists of three linguistic elements: stress (volume), intonation (rising and falling tone), and rhythm (pacing). By combining vocalics with public speaking skills, we can colour our words with the meaning and emotion that motivates others to act.
Crank up your volume: No, we don’t mean shout.
The effective use of volume goes beyond trying to be the loudest person in the room. To direct the flow of any conversation, you must overtly stress what linguists call focus words. When you intentionally place volume on certain words, you emphasize parts of a message and shift the direction of a conversation toward your preferred outcome.
Use a powerful speech style: The key to achieving a powerful speech style, particularly during job interviews and hiring decisions, is to first concentrate on the “melody” of your voice, also called intonation. This rise or fall of our voice conveys grammatical meaning (questions or statements) or even attitude (surprise, joy, sarcasm).
To command more executive presence, combine this technique with increasing the volume of your voice on important focus words. These two elements will help you exude competence and authority.
Calibrate your vocal rhythm with the right melody: Our messages are perceived differently depending on the way we use rhythm in our voices. Deliberately varying our pacing with compelling pauses creates “voiced” punctuation, a powerful way to hold the pulse of the moment.
We often imagine conversations to flow as smoothly and continuously as a river, but fluent speech is actually filled with intricate patterns of conscious starts and stops which linguists call thought groups or acoustical phrasing.
The more definitive you are with speaking in chunked phrases, the more time others will have to process your ideas, and the more clarity you will achieve. Moreover, thought groups, when combined with the volume changes of focus words and the intonation of a powerful speaking style, have been shown to dramatically enhance vocal quality, even upping people’s chances of getting hired.
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