Love Your Voice
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Love Your VoiceDo people really hear what you’re saying?
If you’ve ever been hustled by a fast-talking salesman or sat there waiting for a slow speaker to get to the end of a sentence, you know how strongly pace can affect you. Too fast, and you feel like you’re being run over; too slow, and you start to think the speaker is not only slow, but also as dumb as a doorknob.
So what’s the tempo of your voice saying about you, and how is it affecting what your listeners are hearing and thinking about you?
First, keep in mind that everybody operates at a different pace. If you’re jittery and restless, your metabolism is probably naturally set on high: You walk fast, eat fast, and talk fast. On the other hand, you may be a low-key, calm person who rarely gets overly excited and hates to be rushed. Your heartbeat and breathing are probably slower, and your blood pressure is likely lower.
You need to be able to tune in to your natural speed. Recording yourself and playing the tape back should really help with this. You need to think about whether or not you talk more quickly or slowly than the people around you. Spend some time listening to your friends and co-workers and notice how your pace compares with theirs. There’s no absolute good or bad speed, but I’d like you to become aware of what happens when your tempo is slower or faster. Try to pay attention to how your conversations go when you’re speaking at different speeds, and then you can see whether or not it’s helping you achieve your desired results.
Another good way to determine the proper pace is to see if listeners are constantly interrupting you. If they are, you’re probably speaking too slowly. If they ask you to repeat parts of what you said, you’re most likely speaking too fast.
The Need for Speed
When you get nervous or excited, it’s quite normal for the pace of your voice to go into turbo drive. You might be fine one-on-one or in familiar situations with people you trust, but when you step in front of an audience or have to give somebody bad news—or have unbelievably good news and you’re bursting at the seams to share it—sometimes adrenaline kicks in and increases your pulse rate. At that moment, if you can’t find a way to calm yourself back down, more likely than not the words will just rush out too fast. As you feverishly try to get them all out, the sound of your voice can really suffer. You could end up losing all of the great melody in your voice and fall into a kind of drone-like monotone voice instead.
If you’re rushing through the sentences and not giving yourself time to breathe, there’s no way that your voice is going to create the best sounds possible. Believe me, this isn’t the voice you want to use to tell your boss that you need next Friday off or let your spouse know that there’s a huge dent in the new car.
I’d like you to play with pacing when you talk. You might start by picking up the newspaper or a book and reading into a recording device. Read a sentence or two at your normal speed, and then change the pace. Slow down for another sentence or two and then speed up again. What speed do you think sounds the best? Which one makes you sound energetic or powerful or loving? You might notice that different content seems to be more effective at different speeds.
Play with it. If you’re a fast talker normally, try slowing your pace on every other phone call at work. How do people respond to you? When you’re face-to-face with a friend, watch for cues. Are you connecting better when you slow down? Or does a certain amount of speed help get your message across?
In Slow Motion
When you speak too slowly, you also run the risk of distorting your voice and sounding lazy. Have you seen any old John Wayne moves lately on cable? Well, when I imitate that voice, I think it makes me sound weak, tired, and a bit dim-witted. In many situations, listening to a slow speaker who frequently pauses makes you question the person’s credibility. The pauses suggest hesitancy or lack of authority, or imply that the individual just hasn’t figured out what the heck he or she is trying to say. The slow-talking speaker can also seem unprepared or inarticulate, even thought that might not be the case at all. But honestly, what good is being the sharpest tool in the shed if everybody around you thinks that you’re dense? The goal is to make sure that you always create the best impression possible.
How Do You Sound?
There’s no magic pill for fixing the pace of your speech other than just listening and adjusting, listening and adjusting. Use your recordings for feedback. Keep in mind that different situations require a variety of paces. If you’re a therapist, for example, you might want to provide lots of space in your speech pattern to encourage the other person to respond. If you’re a firefighter, you probably need to speak a bit faster so that your instructions are heard and carried out before the building burns down. Just play around with pace and try to make sure it’s appropriate to your particular circumstances. The good news is that your listeners will quite often let you know by asking you to stop talking so fast, or by telling you that you’re boring them to death!