Friday, August 19, 2011

Sofia Majewski - Speak with Confidence in Your Professional Voice

Find your unique voice

Speak with Confidence in Your Professional Voice

There is nothing more critical in getting you to where you want to be than the ability to think on your feet, choose the right words and speak with confidence.
As a Professional in your chosen industry, a lot of your time is spent talking to clients and prospective clients, face to face and by telephone.  Professionalism, friendliness and confidence have to be conveyed using the instrument of your voice.  Your voice is in fact a tool. It's a tool that can gain you business or lose you that next business deal.  Some things to keep in mind:
Your Tone of Voice
What does the tone of your voice sound like? Does it reflect confidence? Strength? Assurance?  Are you prepared sufficiently to be conducting the call?  Do you need, perhaps, to call the client back when you are prepared?  If you are warm and interested in what they are saying, you will sound warm and interested on the phone.  Your speaking on the phone reveals a lot about you to the listener. (Because they can’t SEE you they are more tuned in to your SOUND).
Voice Inflection
When speaking and thinking about the key points you want to emphasise, make sure the inflection of your voice does just that.  Inflection alone can change the meaning of a sentence.  Whatever you do, don’t sound uninterested or bored.  Your client needs assurance and needs to be confident in what you are saying.  Make sure your voice is clear and strong.
Practise, practise, practise. The delivery of your message is really important.  Don't be afraid to rehearse the messages that you frequently give.  (For example, advice to clients and stakeholders).  Or even the frequent messages you convey with phone calls.  If the message is sensitive and important, practise it beforehand.  How does it sound to you?
What do you sound like? For example, when you record your voicemail message, what do others hear? A smile? Confidence? Authority?  Don't be afraid to record your voice as you are practising.   When you hear the recording of your voice, you hear exactly as others hear it. And this is, most often, a higher voice sound than you hear yourself.
Similar to tone, but different. The energy in your voice allows people to feel like they are in the room with you and that you are tuned in to what they are saying. One thing to watch is the speed at which you are speaking.  You can speak much faster than most people can keep up with. Especially if you are speaking about and using technical phrases – and they are not common to your clients. 
So, as you are speaking, pause, do diaphragm breathing; think about what you are going to say and fill it with the right energy for the moment.

It’s good to be aware of the following principles:

1.    Prepare yourself for the speaking task – whether by phone, or face to face.
2.    Prepare your message and make notes, or summarise, the information you are conveying to clients.
3.    Listen to your client with as much focus as you can.  Your responses must be tailored to your client’s questions and not fixed entirely on your pre-determined message.
4.    Be aware of the environment in which you are speaking.   If it’s noisy or if it detracts from the message you are trying to convey, then make all the changes you can so that your message is able to be conveyed clearly.
5.    Be aware of, and consciously step into, your professional voice, to achieve your     professional objectives.
6.    Practise the 5 minute exercises for voice every day.  In the shower, and/ or in the car, practise the Kah, Hah, Gah, and the Mmmmmm and Nnnnnnnnnn which will develop and maintain Your Professional Voice.

Remember, it’s not about YOU – it’s nearly ALL about your Client.

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