I have heard more frightening voices and speaking styles than I’ve had treats from a Trick or Treat expedition! Of course I am more sensitive than most people when they speak, and notice if someone’s voice, or speaking style doesn’t engage their audience.
We all have our own unique style of speaking: the tone of our voice, pitch, speed we speak, vocabulary we use, accent and mannerisms are some of the many characteristics we have as individuals. I am all in favour of having a personal style. However, if your voice or speaking style FRIGHTENS others, or prevents them engaging with their audience or listeners, it is an opportunity missed! Whilst it is okay on one level to say “This is how I speak, so people have to like it”, BUT if people are not taking notice of what you say, undervalue you or even struggle to comprehend what you say, then it is time to MODIFY how you speak.
Here are 5 Frightening voices and speaking styles I regularly come across.
- The shouter. This could be the person who always believes he’s on the rugby pitch; barking orders like a sergeant major, or even a make up artiste who shouts loudly whenever she speaks (like the make up artist on Strictly Come Dancing). Believe it or not, people zone out due to the noise. Inevitably these people NEVER LISTEN or look at the non-verbal cues that other people want to speak. They become the butt of jokes behind their back.
- The Mumbler. This is the opposite of the shouter. This person has a very quiet voice, doesn’t project their voice, tends to look down when they speak and doesn’t articulate any word. It is very difficult to hear what they say, and you have to work very hard to comprehend anything. In fact most people don’t bother to listen and jump in to finish the sentence or take no notice. This person is undervalued because their contribution in a conversation isn’t noticed.
3. The excruciating voice. I remember discussing global entrepreneurial thought leaders with a client. I mentioned a couple of names and my client said “I can’t bear listening to their voice so switch off any videos they send”. OOH! What a shame! I must admit I do the same, opting to either read their blogs or ignore them. A nasal, high pitched, whiny voice is a genuine turn off. Not only does it contradict some of the amazing content the thought leader is sharing, but it is deeply unpleasant to listen to. The listener turns off. A real shame.
4. Speaking too fast. Whilst mentioning global thought leaders, I struggle to understand some if they speak too fast. I am an English speaker; it is my first language, yet I am not able to understand some American speakers, and I’m afraid to say they are mainly young women. They speak so fast, with a very strong accent and with lots of colloquial phrases. I give up and switch off. Again, what a shame. If you are speaking to a global audience on the internet, you have to be aware that a) the audience might not speak English as a first language. b) the reception might be very poor so the sound isn’t clear. c) you will have an accent. d) you need to speak clearly. It isn’t good enough to say “But this is my brand”.
5. Speaking with loads of mannerisms. Waving your arms around like an Italian traffic warden is distracting. Of course we naturally move our arms and head to emphasise specific words, but there comes a point when it is distracting. Your audience won’t listen to what you are saying, they will be watching your arms. Do you want your audience to do that?? I bet you’d rather they listened to what you were saying.
There are plenty of other frightening voices and speaking styles that turn our audience off listening to what we say. If you would like to work with me on being able to engage your audience effectively when you speak, Contact me or call +44 (0) 800 0938 464. I do work virtually as well as face to face.