There’s no denying that times are tough, jobs are harder to come by and when you have one, it’s so much harder to hold onto it with the spate of retrenchments and company shut downs. So how do you differentiate yourself from the crowd? How do you become an indispensible asset to your company?
“Communication is often not part of a diploma or degree, yet lack of communication skills and savvy will stop you from reaching the top,” says Monique Harrisberg, CEO of The Voice Clinic, a leading international voice and communication skills training company.”Communication influences your business soft skills and network more than any qualification you might have.”
Communication is the cornerstone of interpersonal interaction. Knowing how to give a better interview, make more sales, give an excellent presentation and motivating your staff, all begins with excellent, verbal as well as non-verbal communication skills. The question is what then sells us and sets us apart from others and how can you develop a winning communication style ?
According to Harrisberg, good speech and vocal qualities will help to set you apart. Phoney accents or an unnatural or strident voice won’t sell you. To sound sincere and confident, start with learning to use your voice to its full advantage. There is a lot riding on the impression you leave in negotiations, on the telephone to a client, or making that big sale.
“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 lower frequencies are generally perceived by others to be credible and sincere.” says Harrisberg.
Voice training can help you to develop a more flexible vocal tone using proper breathing techniques and a selection of vocal exercises to achieve more flexible and varied tone. A quick tip is to practice breathing ‘mindfully’. This means that you need to breathe deeply. “In this way your voice will come like a balloon, from the stomach, a will be projected out in a rich, resonant way,” says Harrisberg.
When it comes to mumbling, it doesn’t take a miracle. The Voice Clinic advises that you simply open your mouth and project your voice. What often stop the sound is our teeth. By speaking too quickly, not only is it difficult for other people, especially people who aren’t native speakers of the language, to grasp what we are saying. Another problem is we ‘lose ‘meaning. 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, within reason of course. This gives the listener time to pick up everything you are saying and to understand that it is important enough to you to take the time to say slowly and clearly.
Then there is the use of pause. Naturally we must pause to breath. However, pause can also give listeners time to internalise, or think about what you have said. Pause also adds interest to what we are saying.”By pausing, we can create suspense and tension, “says Harrisberg when describing how pause can add colour and vocal variety to speech.
When combined with varying your pitch and tone, pause can help to take the monotony out of your voice and make what you are saying more interesting to listen to. “Pause is also important for clarity and good diction,” says Harrisberg.
Research support how important your voice is by saying 38% of the overall impression you create comes from the quality and tone of your voice and the remaining 7% is what you actually say to the other person i.e. your message or words that you speak. The last 55% comes from image and body language.