Five Ways to Polish Your Vocal Image

 In Presence, Vocal Image
Women singing into a hairbrush while looking at her reflection in the mirror

Housework is overrated, so use your extra time to do something that makes a difference – try polishing your vocal image instead of your mirror.

Here are five ways you can use the time to your advantage:

  1. Clarify your intention. What is the real reason you want to have that conversation? What is the purpose of your presentation? Why are you talking to that group? What do you want them to do as a result of hearing you out? These are the questions to ask in order to clarify your intention. Intention shows in your voice and your body language. If your intention is not clear, you will lose impact. Take a look at this example from a post by Olivia Mitchell on her blog, Speaking about Presenting. Notice how Danah’s intention changed from giving her talk to getting off the stage. Great lesson not only in what to do with the backchannel but how an intention can change because of circumstances. A great resource for studying intention is Dennis Rivers’ Seven Challenges: Cooperative Communication Skills Handbook wherein he has a long list of intentions that you can refer to get clear on yours. You can download it for free here.
  2. Get in touch with your inner speaker. What emotions do you feel when you speak? Think of the last time you gave a speech. Did you feel nervous? Did you wish you were somewhere else? Was there someone in the room that you didn’t like or who gave you a difficult time? Were you frustrated by a poor sound system or lighting or a distracting backchannel? Were you happy to be there? Do you enjoy your topic? Whatever you were feeling, it is a sure bet that it showed in your voice. Review some of your presentations and prepare for the next by learning from the past. Great preparation is one of the best ways to ensure that you feel and sound confident and at your best.
  3. Look closely at your message. Take some time to make sure that what you are saying is in alignment with your intention. For example, make sure the stories you tell are appropriate to the occasion and the audience. If you know you will be pressed for time to deliver your message, make sure you keep your intention focused on what you have to say and then make it concise, rather than focusing your intention on getting out as quickly as you can. To help you get clear on your content, check Nick Morgan’s excellent blog on public speaking, Public Words.
  4. Watch a great movie and take notes. We can all learn from great actors. If you haven’t seen one of the Oscar-nominated films of the year, rent it or go to the theater and take notes. Become aware of the conversation and how the actors sound in different situations, with different emotions and intentions. Consider how you can use some of their tricks. You aren’t looking to sound fake, but you want to be aware of how you sound so you can create the impact you want with your voice.
  5. Focus on your voice. Practice, Practice, Practice. If you have a presentation or a speech or an important conversation coming up, once you have established your intention and your content, take some time to rehearse out loud. Go over the beginning, the points you want to make, and the end. Practice while driving. Practice while walking around the house. It’s not enough to rehearse it in your head especially when polishing your vocal image! You need to hear yourself so you can make adjustments as needed.

If you apply yourself in these ways, your vocal image will shine and shimmer. And who knows? You may sparkle just a bit more in the eyes of someone important to you, too.

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