Do you know somebody with a voice and speaking pattern that makes you cringe? Is it the umm, umm, ummer, the uptalker, the person who always says “like”, the run-on sentencer, or a speaker with one of these irritating traits listed by the National Speakers Association? An annoying voice stays with your memory like a bad smell and more importantly it detracts from your message.
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Now turn that around and recall a pleasant voice and speaking pattern. Actress Sophia Bush or James Earl Jones both have distinguished voices and memorable speaking styles that I like. You don’t need to speak like a performer, you just don’t want to distract your audience. In today’s world of branded content and branded journalism, it’s likely that you or a colleague will present to a group or appear in some type of video or audio piece. It might be recorded from your mobile device or high end production gear.
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The hit NBC Program, The Voice, is about more than singing, it’s pitch is perfect for every day life, especially in today’s world of multimedia messaging. In the first round of competition, the judges make their selection exclusively on voice, not appearance.
When I was a television news producer, a very smart news director taught us to evaluate on-air talent on three levels. Just like The Voice, first he made us listen to the candidate with our backs turned. If the candidate passed this most important voice review they would move onto the silent, non verbal communication test. In the third phase we would grade the applicant with voice and visuals combined. The person with the best voice and clear delivery style was usually selected. Our exercise which targeted news reporters and anchors applies to anyone who appears in any form of multimedia and today that could be an executive, a CEO, or a random spokesperson.
Communications consultant Roshini Rajkumar says it comes down to how you sound, how you deliver and how people perceive you through what they hear. To manage internally and externally, this vocal expertise has an impact on your organization.
Forbes Magazine contributor Cheryl Conner profiles a book titled Pitch Perfect: How to Say it Right the First Time, Every Time in which author and former TV reporter Bill McGowan offers helpful speaking tips, among those, giving your audience a headline which is quoted below.
The Headline Principle. Get attention for a topic by sharing your best information first, McGowan says, especially if it’s a thought-provoking line that makes listeners think “I want to know more.” This is golden wisdom. It applies to investment pitches, sales presentations, and, of course, to articles, press releases and blog columns as well. As I like to put it, writing a great press release or article is like telling a joke backwards: You begin with the punchline. Then you proceed down the pyramid to fill in the color and the additional details.
In addition to these suggestions that will help you deliver your branded content message more effectively, here are three other ideas that might help you:
- Record yourself and listen to your interview or presentation. It’s very uncomfortable but can help you identify patterns.
- Just follow the arrow. If you are uptalking and want to vary your delivery, draw an up, down or sideways arrow at the end of each sentence and intonate accordingly.
- Keep your thoughts simple. When possible make your points in groups of three.
If you try a few of these simple suggestions, maybe the audience won’t bash you on Twitter when you’re talking and your colleagues won’t pick up fake phone calls when they hear you approaching. With the low cost of producing content on platforms like YouTube, podcasts and webinars, the odds are pretty good that sometime soon, you’ll be using one of your most powerful marketing tools to brand your content, Your Voice.
The opinions expressed in this blog are my own. My Twitter handle is Ronald Petrovich.