You live in multiple roles: you're mom or dad, husband or wife, boss, direct report, sports fan, coach, student, teacher, and many others. Without being conscious of it, you speak in a different voice as you rotate through these roles each day. Sometimes the voice of a role is actually the sound coming out of your throat. Other times the voice is more about the language you use, your posture, your emotion, your confidence or your perspective.
Wildly popular speakers bring a variety of voices to their audiences. You can do this too.
1) In your business you're both a boss and a direct report to someone. Hopefully your 'boss voice' is one of leadership: vision, encouragement, values, and listening more than talking. And your 'direct report voice' is one of confidence in your work, strong peer relationships and forward thinking. When you craft a speech or presentation be sure to incorporate both of these voices into it. Nancy Duarte says that good speeches go back and forth between "how it is" and "how it could be". These are your two voices. Don't get stuck in one or the other, instead speak with both of them.
2) Business speakers have other roles in other parts of their lives, and their audiences do too. So tap into those other roles for a variety of voices. A 'coach voice' is part observation and recommendations and part unbridled enthusiasm. When you're building up to your call-to-action, you'll be more effective with your coach voice, not your business voice. As you write and then practice your speech, allow your coach voice to take the lead on that part. You'll realize that the words you use, the rhythm and the emotion are very different from those in your business voice.
3) Subject matter experts tend to speak like professors or teachers. This is what their audiences expect and for the most part it is fine. Yet too much of a good thing is not good. So even SMEs and other tech types need to allow their other voices to emerge. A recent client wanted to use some academic definitions in his presentation, but quoting them word for word was bogging him down. So we thought about what other voice he could use and he came up with the coach voice instead of the academic voice. He'd precede the definiton with a little humor his audience would get and paraphrase the definitions in less formal language. This also enabled him to inflect more and keep the flow of his presentatin moving.
What are your top two or three voices? Take time to identify them. What words and cadence do you use with those voices? What's the emotional content of those voices and how does it differ from your 'business voice'? How will you use these voices in your speeches and presentations?
Now, let one of those voices join the conversation through our comment box!