In these tough times, when jobs are harder to get and even harder to hold on to with the spate of retrenchments and company shutdowns, it is important to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
“Make sure that you are an indispensable asset to you company, and that those making decisions recognise that fact," says Monique Harrisberg voice and communications expert and CEO of The Voice Clinic, an international communication skills training company.
Harrisberg says a lack of communication skills and savvy will stop you from reaching the top. Communication influences your business soft skills and network more than any qualification.”After all, communication is the cornerstone of interpersonal interaction”. “Knowing how to give a better interview, make more sales, give a good presentation, motivate staff – all begin with excellent verbal and non-verbal communication skills."
Harrisberg asks what is it that sells us and sets us apart, how can you develop a winning communication style? The answer is quite simple. “It all about good speech. Vocal qualities will help to set you apart,” she believes. “Phoney accents or an unnatural or strident voice won’t sell you. To sound sincere and confident starts with learning to use your voice to its full advantage.”
This is important to know, especially if you have a lot riding on the impression you leave, for example in negotiations, on the telephone to a client or in making a big sales pitch. “When we talk about the voice, we are talking about pitch, pace and pause,” explains Harrisberg. Pitch is how high or low the frequency of our voice is when we speak. People who speak with a rich, resonant voice, in the lower frequencies, be it male or female, are generally perceived to be more credible and sincere.
The Voice Clinic advises if you have a problem with a high-pitched voice, a monotonous flat tone, or a nasal pitch, that you seek advice from an accredited voice training company. Voice training can help you develop a more flexible vocal tone using proper breathing techniques and a selection of vocal exercises to achieve a more flexible and varied tone.
“A quick tip to get you started is to practise breathing consciously. This means breathe deeply. In this way your voice will come like a balloon from the stomach and will be projected out in a rich resonant way,” explains Harrisberg.
If your problem is mumbling, Harrisberg advises that you simply open your mouth and project your voice.” What often stops the sound is our teeth and lips, so be aware of opening your mouth properly when you speak so that you don’t mumble or hamper your speech. Practise opening your mouth by saying the word ‘’ouch’ she advises.
Next in your vocal arsenal is pace. That is how quickly we speak. If we are not aware, we can lose the message or the gravity of the message, which is the whole point of communication. “By speaking too quickly, not only it is difficult for other people, especially those who are not native speakers of the language, to grasp what we are saying but we lose the meaning," she says. Giving your speech meaning or your words gravity comes from using the correct pace. The more serious you are, the more slowly you need to speak, with reason, of course. This gives the listener time to pick up everything you say and to understand that it is important.
Then there is the use of pause. Naturally we pause to breathe. However, pause can also give listeners time to inter-analyse or think about what you have just said. “Pause also adds interest to what we are saying. By pausing we can create suspense and tension,” says Harrisberg.
A pause can add colour and vocal variety to speech and is important for clarity and good word choice. For your free assessment contact one of our branches.