18 September 2005

What is your personal voice?

Your voice leaves an impression on others. Do you know what that impression is?

Are you loud? Crude? Soft-spoken? Timid? Distant? Your personal voice comes through not just in conversation but in any communication where words are a part: emails, announcements, meetings and presentations.

Your personal voice defines you in the eyes of others, just as much as your clothing or grooming habits. The right voice will leave a strong impression that people will remember. The wrong voice can make a powerful message seem flat and uninteresting.

How do you work on improving your voice?
1) Pay attention to it. It's true for anything, but by simply focusing on your voice, you will begin to improve it.
2) Measure your success. Measurement isn't just about numbers. Watch people's faces when you talk. Gauge their reactions to your emails and other written communications. Is it working? If you're paying attention you will note that some communications work better than others. See if you can figure out why.
3) Be personal. When you speak or write, address your thoughts directly to people, not the void. Use the word "you" more than "I." Research has shown that an informal voice is more effective and memorable than a formal one.
4) Don't shield people from your emotions. Your feelings define you; they offer the context that gives everything else worth and meaning.
5) Keep it real. At the end of the day, your personal voice must genuinely reflect who you are as a person.

Great people throughout history had a personal voice that defined them. It's easy to think of artists and writers such as Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh, and musicians, from J.S. Bach to Miles Davis. But don't forget powerful communicators in other disciplines, like Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan, Oprah Winfrey, Carl Sagan, Steve Jobs and countless others.

The list of great communicators is endless, and each one has a powerful voice that is uniquely theirs.

What's yours?

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Sydney said...

Oh I've DEFINITELY got an original voice... ;)

Mr. Chips said...

I don't have a voice, but if I did it wouldn't be anybody's goddamn business.

Unknown said...

Ok Mr. Chips, I guess we better leave you alone.