02 May 2021
Coach’s Corner: Power Up Your Vocal Behavior
Our content tour in celebration of National Executive Coaching Day continues with focus on a key delivery tool–always at your disposal but not always maximized: Vocal Behavior.
Your voice plays a big role in how your vocal behavior is experienced by the listener, but the voice alone is not the only facet of how your vocal behavior communicates. Close your eyes and think about how you react to the voice of James Earl Jones. Now, how does a Betty Boop voice come across in a business setting? Vocal behavior consists of how you sound, how you deliver your sound, and how people receive your sound.
Your sound is the quality of your voice. An energetic and easy-to-hear sound conveys dynamism. Shouting doesn’t work, but neither does a nearly-inaudible voice. Your sound also takes into consideration your pitch. Are you too high-pitched, too nasal, too overbearing? Record yourself reading and then listen to yourself for ways to improve. If you don’t have the ear to hear then find some help with this assessment. Awareness is the first step to empowering your vocal behavior.
Your tone is the personality of your voice. Does your tone communicate irritability, anger, condescension, or approachability? For most of us, it might convey all of those personalities. However, when you’re speaking as a leader, you want to control your vocal personality. Build awareness about what tone of voice you’re using and then move into action to make sure it’s your intended tone. I suggest you do an energy check before any meeting or important phone call. Chat with someone who is not part of the meeting and really listen to your tone. What are you hearing as you speak? If you sound approachable and powerful, stay in that zone. If you’re hearing a negative tone, self-correct so your intended message has the best chance of landing with your audience.
If you are aware of the messages your vocal behavior sends beyond the words you speak, then you are in the subtext realm. Verbal tics, speed of speaking, volume, and pausing for emotion and impact all contribute to subtext. Poor subtext means your intended message delivery won’t happen. Seeking honest feedback from your senior team as well as others in your audiences about what they heard versus what you intended is a first step to powerful subtextual messaging and allows you to accomplish overall vocal behavior wins.
It doesn’t matter what you know if you don’t know how to communicate it. Make sure your vocal behavior evolves into a powerful tool for your leadership presence.