Feb 19 2015

Vocal Impact Weekly Tip: Are you afraid to commit or do you just sound like it?

Published by under Vocal Image

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-bald-businessman-hand-behind-ear-closeup-listening-closely-against-gray-background-image31841818One of my clients, a c-level executive, sounds like he is asking questions all the time.  At least, that’s what his team tells me.  What I hear is a vocal image (how people perceive of you by the sound of your voice) of indecision created by lot of upspeak. Upspeak is a speech pattern wherein most sentences end with a rise in pitch, like a question.  Now I know that we were all taught to end statements by bringing the voice down in pitch.  Right? (That’s another way we sound indecisive– follow a statement with a question looking for agreement.) However, up-speak, or open cadence is running rampant in our culture, and no matter how bold your statements are in English, if you end each with a question mark the power goes away and people see you as unable to commit to your ideas.  And I have to tell you that 90% of you are using up-speak all the time.

Change your vocal image and you change the way people perceive of you, otherwise known as your personal brand.  In this case it’s as simple as remembering to make statements that end in periods or exclamation marks instead of question marks. And it’s as hard as breaking a habit.  If you know that you have adopted the popular speech pattern of up-speak, and want to break the habit, here’s how:

1.     Record yourself speaking extemporaneously.  Listen and transcribe what you said.  Rewrite it with complete sentences and record yourself reading the new script.  Listen to the difference.  Practice.
2.     Pick one conversation a day to speak consciously making statements with closed cadence(down speak). A conversation partner can help.
3.     Refuse to follow statements with “and,” “but,” “ok?,” “right?,” or “you know?”  Let a statement be a statement.

For more on this topic, please see my post, This is why your communication doesn’t have impact.  It includes a great video with slam poet, Taylor Mali.

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Feb 12 2015

Vocal Impact Weekly Tip: The secret to a great Valentine’s Day conversation

Published by under Intention,Musings

8551938948_1c2a58ae9c(Do not read this if you are completely prepared for every upcoming conversation that matters.)

Valentine’s Day can be confusing, if not downright depressing. This often stems from the fact that all those little cupids and hearts put pressure on you to have an important conversation. You stress and sweat about what to say, when to say it and where, and even with whom…and the day just gets closer and closer. Well, never fear. There is a secret to finding the right thing to say at the right time. All you have to do is answer this question honestly and the conversation you need to have will fall into place:

 What is your intention for the conversation?

Now, it’s not just the question, it’s also the opportunity to “get honest with yourself”  that solves the puzzle.  Frankly, that may be the hardest part to figure out. But it’s necessary because intention is an aim that guides your action. If you know your intention, you know what to do.

Consider this–  if you want talk to your special someone about a upcoming ski trip, that’s a very different conversation than talking to them about spending your life together. More importantly, saying you want to have a conversation about skiing when you’re really intent on the bigger conversation only leaves people confused. I’m not saying there can’t be surprises in life.  I am saying that once you get clear about your intention, you’ll be much clearer about what to say, when and where. Of course, the hardest part may still be the action piece, but at least you’ll know what you SHOULD say.

To read how this applies to other conversations that matter, please read my post, Intention: The prescription for an authentic voice.

photo credit:  via photopin (license)

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