Voice tonality and influence.

– Posted in: Business, Presentations, Success

While discussing the use of specific patterns of language, at a recent meeting I hosted about NLP, I suggested that, in order to emphasise a phrase or a specific word, a person could make it stand out from the rest of the sentence by using an ‘analogue mark’.

This could be a gesture, the raise of an eyebrow or, as I recommended, a lowering of voice tonality and an increase in its resonance – by ‘talking from your diaphragm’.

When someone asked why this would be effective, I explained that ‘bathing someone in resonance’ enables them to feel your words. This increases the impact of the words because they are being registered by an additional sense – hearing and feeling the word or phrase.

I have had some additional thoughts about voice resonance that I did not mention at the time. An obvious example of voice tonality that we have all experienced when going to the cinema. I order to create an air of authority and gravitas, during a film trailer, the industry would go to Don LaFontaine. I am sure you can remember a trailer that started “In a world where….”.

Don’s voice changed (broke) halfway through a sentence, when he was thirteen years old, and never went back. He was so embarrassed that he tried not to talk at school the following day. Eventually his teacher insisted that he talk. Don said, “What do you want me to say?” and he was sent to the ‘office’ because his teacher thought he was, in Don’s words, “screwing with her”. However, the embarrassment soon disappeared when he realised that he could pretend to be an adult during telephone conversations – pretending to be the parents of his friends: “I am sorry but Timmy can come to school today”.

Talking slowly with a deep rich tonality gives the impression of authority and high status. Conversely, speaking quickly in a high-pitched voice is the main trait of the comedy relief character in a Disney film.

You can add to the gravitas of a statement and emphasis a point by nodding your head or angling you head downwards slightly while saying the words you want to emphasis. Can you remember a time when someone glowered at you with and angry stare? Maybe, a parent, or teacher, explaining something ‘in no uncertain terms’. Do you remember a feeling that they should be listened to?

Add slowly delivered words, with a low tonality, to the right head angle (lower your chin by an inch) and you can really demonstrate a subliminal authority. Now obviously you do not want to frighten everyone by looking out from under your eyebrows, like some kind of predator, so smiling is an important addition to the mix.

This may seem a lot to remember but the chances are that you do this naturally during normal conversation. All you have to do is to plan to do what is natural, at a specific point in a presentation, sales pitch, or any situation where you wish to influence someone.

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