Voice Synergy News

Repetition. Repetition. Repetition (some of the ingredients of ‘How to Make a Good Sales Speech’)

Ducks in a rowThe long established, three golden rules of advertising: “Repetition, repetition, repetition” can work well when you are preparing to make a sales presentation too.

Long ago, during marketing communication lectures at university, it was drawn to my attention that the potential buyer of your goods or services needs to receive your advertising message at least three times within a reasonable time frame in order to be able to recall it and then make a purchase. You will notice the frequency of TV, radio and social media advertising you receive yourself, all designed to drive home a sales message and encourage you to act upon it.

This principle holds good when applied to making a sales speech. In order to help your audience to remember your message, the heart of your speech, your presentation must repeat your key message at least three times. It must also flow, be interesting but above all, be memorable.

It is perfectly possible to repeat your message if you are speaking clearly and you can use different words and phrases which mean the same thing. For example, “this product will last.” You can also say, “you will still be using this product a year from now.” Or, “this product has a lifetime guarantee”.

Using repetition will serve to emphasise the point you are making, while keeping your presentation fresh and engaging.

Keep repeating your key message and it will sink in. Whoever hears your message will remember it, if your message is repeated at least three times.

When preparing your speech, remember this simple rule:

  1. Say what you’re going to say
  2. Say it
  3. Say what you’ve said.

What does this mean, exactly? Well, your introduction should include the bare points of what is to follow. Your introduction serves as an hors d’ouevre or an amuse bouche or a starter and it should be designed, therefore, to whet the appetite of your listeners. Allude to the main points which are to follow, but in brief, giving a taster to your audience of what you are going to serve up in your presentation.

The main body of your presentation should clearly deal with the key points you wish to make. I suggest strongly that you include only three major items here if you wish your message to be remembered and recalled after your presentation is over. Fewer points will render your speech weak and potentially a waste of time for the audience. More points could overload your audience’s memory capacity and therefore be wasted as they will be forgotten.

The three key points should each be dealt with using clarity, impact and relevance. If humour is appropriate, use it, but use it sparingly as it is can be difficult to judge the mood of the room and humour can work against you as easily as it can work for you.

Once you have clearly addressed each of your three topic areas, using logical links and compelling language, you can move on the final part of your presentation; the summary of your speech.

The concluding part of your speech or presentation follows the in-depth analysis. This should lightly touch on what you have just said, outlining again the benefits of your product or service and what those mean for your audience. Use a short story of a satisfied customer’s experience to underline the three points you made in your presentation, for example, to highlight what you have just said and bring your presentation to a well-balanced close.

There are many different ways of achieving an impactful speech. As well as using the rule of three – Repetition, repetition, repetition – a good sales presentation embodies good posture, congruent body language, and the effective use of intonation, pitch and pause.

The content of your speech – what you actually say – is vital and you need to rehearse it more than once, more than twice, ie three times, before you deliver your speech in front of your audience.

Be interesting, be yourself and remember to repeat your key message. Repeat your key message not once, not twice. Remember to repeat your key message three times and your audience has a good chance of remembering, recalling and most importantly, acting on the message to buy your product or service.

For more information on how to make a good speech get in touch.

See previous newsletters.

How to speak more clearly

Smiling exercises can help you speak more clearly

This month the spotlight is on articulation. Or, how to speak more clearly.

Why should you bother with articulation or even be thinking about it? Articulation happens when we change, or shape, the basic sounds we make into sounds that can be understood. Our articulators are our tongue, lips, teeth and soft palate.

A baby can make all sorts of sounds like ‘ooo’ ‘ahhhh’ and ‘eeee’ and we can make very accurate guesses about what the baby is ‘saying’ to us. But it’s still a guess. When we grow older and develop our speech skills, we use our articulators, including our tongue and lips to shape sounds into intelligible speech. This makes us speak more clearly.

For example, the sound ‘ahhhh’ with the addition of the tongue being held on the gum ridge (just behind our top teeth), then released, becomes ‘dah, dah, dah’ or ‘lah lah, lah’. Placing the tongue gently between the front teeth changes the sound ‘er’ to ‘the’.

The more accurately you use your articulators, the clearer your speech becomes.
Here are some top tips to help you strengthen your tongue and lips to help you speak more clearly:

The Tongue

Here are some exercises to help you to strengthen and use your tongue more effectively when you speak and help you to speak more clearly.

The tongue is a large, flexible muscle, rooted at the base of the mouth and used to shape many sounds. You will benefit from using a mirror in the following exercises:

  1. Drop your jaw away from your face so your mouth is open and let your tongue sit on your lower lip, completely relaxed. Flex the tongue so it becomes round like a sausage and relax to return to its flat state. At first this may be a challenge, but persevere and the muscle will awaken and respond well.
  2. With the jaw still relaxed and dropped away from your face, curl the tip of your tongue to precisely touch the centre of the top lip, then touch the tip of the tongue to the centre of the bottom lip. Maintain the distance between the two lips to encourage the tongue to travel and grow in strength and accuracy. Relax your shoulders, keep your head free and centred between your shoulders.
  3. Repeat the above exercise, and then move the tip of the tongue to the corner of the right side of the mouth, then to the left, so the tip of the tongue is bending up, down, right, left. Ensure you are very precise with the point of contact. It can help to touch the tip of your tongue with your finger then touch the centre top lip to match the two points of contact then allowing them to locate.
  4. Then move the tongue to make contact at that exact point before moving to the next point and so on. Take your time—this is a new exercise and takes time to master.
  5. Maintaining the position of the jaw dropped away from the face, put the tip of your tongue in front of your bottom teeth and inside your bottom lip. Move the tip of your tongue around the teeth in a clockwise direction, noticing the texture and shape of the teeth, then move up to the top teeth, all around, down to the bottom teeth and finishing back at the start point. Repeat in the other direction.
  6. Repeat the exercise with the tip of the tongue on the lips themselves, clockwise then anticlockwise.
    Stick your tongue out as far as you can in a straight line and pull back in until it is bunched at the back of the mouth. Keep the jaw dropped away from your face during this exercise.
  7. Leave the tip of the tongue resting behind your bottom teeth, low in the mouth. Allow the wide middle of the tongue to come forward (rather like a frog action!) and bring back into the mouth again.

Repeat each of these exercises 5–10 times and take your time. Your body will find it new and it is your role to introduce the new demands slowly and build up strength and flexibility over a period of time. Relax your tongue by making a flappy ‘blblbl’ sound as your flick your tongue out and over your lips.

The Lips

Here are some exercises to strengthen and create more flexibility with your lips to help you speak more clearly.

  1. Your lips work in conjunction with your teeth and tongue to shape your words clearly. Your lips move in all directions, up and down, sideways, in and out, assisted by many facial muscles which grow stronger with exercise. Regularly warming up and strengthening these articulators is essential to speaking more clearly.
  2. Give a wide, expansive smile that includes a sparkle in your eyes. Relax, and then bring the lips together in an exaggerated French-style pout. Pull the lips together so they can hardly be seen, then tuck the lips around the teeth, as though you have no teeth to show. Repeat several times in different combinations.
  3. On an out-breath blow the ‘Brrrr’ sound out through your lips, ‘horse lips’ as it is sometimes called! It can also sound like an old car puttering along the country lanes. The lips are completely relaxed and your voice just helps to blow the sound through your lips. This relaxes the lips, the sound of your voice keeps the sound at the front of the mouth while gently continuing to warm up your vocal folds in your larynx.
  4. Give your face a gentle massage around your mouth area, using a light circular touch with your fingertips.
  5. Next, read a challenging political speech aloud, over-articulating each word, exaggerating all articulator actions. Pause at punctuation and take a full breath with each new sentence.

These warm up exercises will help you to develop your speech muscles and shape your speech more accurately. The more you practise, the easier it becomes and the clearer your speech.

To book a one-to-one coaching session, or for more information on speaking more clearly, get in touch.

Speech of Fire and Ice

Speech of fire and ice“When you speak a language, it has to be authentic.” So says David Peterson, creator of Dothraki and Valyrian languages for HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Those whose native tongue is Dothraki or Valyrian speak with an authenticity that gives an air of command and authority. The strong 18 consonant sounds superbly blended with the six long and short vowel sounds have been refined to effectively invent a new language in Game of Thrones.

Daenerys Targaryen (Khaleesi) speaks High Valyrian (a refined form of Dothraki) as well as English.

Throughout the seven seasons of Game of Thrones, Valyrian is heard being delivered by those in high command, in high status roles, challenging and influencing their audiences.

The ability to make great speeches doesn’t just fall into your lap. To make great speeches, it is essential to use the full power of your voice. Use those consonants to shape your words clearly, use those vowels to create the heart of your speech, whether you are speaking Dothraki, High Valyrian or English.

Whatever you say, it is vital to be authentic in your speech. Believe in what you are saying, be present, and honour the sounds of the words you speak.

Just like Daenerys Targaryen, Khaleesi, Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, it is possible for you to be commanding, persuasive and most importantly – authentic – you just need presence, timing and outstanding speech skills.

For more information, get in touch.

Why is the Italian accent so special?

Italian accent illustrated by image of gondolier in Venice, Italy, photograph by Voice SynergyRossini, Puccini, Bellini… the great opera composers knew a thing or two about the Italian accent and how wonderfully the vowel sounds resonate at length around the opera halls.

The sound of a long ‘ah’, ‘ee’ or ‘oo’ contributes so much to the atmosphere created by the singer and expresses the emotions of fear, despair and love. Add some long ‘or’, ‘air’ and ‘er’ vowels and the audience is transported.

Operas seized the opportunity to influence their audiences through the music and sounds of the words and vowels of the great singers. But it’s not just the great Italian operas which uses the long vowels so effectively to impact on the listeners. And it’s not just in song that you hear those long vowels.

Listening to lively conversations, during a recent trip to Venice, the melodic rhythm of the Italian speakers was all around. The passion of the spoken language was evident with the strong emphasis on the vowels – supported by the hand movements and body gestures. So expressive, so passionate, so very different from the way British English speakers speak.

Sometimes clients explain that they have just one style of speaking, especially if they come from Italy or Spain. It’s rapid, full of supportive hand gestures and loud. These clients say that their voice style is holding them back in the business world. With voice coaching you can discover new ways to use your voice. The right kind of voice for the right occasion. Subtle, quiet, persuasive or authoritative speech can win you respect from your peers and even new business from your clients.

With voice coaching to help you find new ways of expressing yourself, you can choose or lose those long vowels. It’s horses for courses, as we say in the UK, or the right voice for the right business occasion.

For more help with improving your accent and speech, get in touch.

Voice recognition technology

Voice recognitionLove it or loathe it? Voice recognition technology is all around us at every moment of the day. We can ask our smartphone what the weather will be tomorrow, dictate notes, or vocally activate a bank account transaction. But is voice recognition technology as good as it claims to be?

A lighter take on the drawbacks of voice recognition from a lift somewhere in Scotland can be seen here.

Two Scottish guys are imploring a voice-activated lift with increasing desperation, to whisk them up to the eleventh floor. Their Scottish accent is not understood. They try an American then English accent in a dismayed attempt for their voice command to be recognised and understood. But the lift’s voice recognition technology has been developed by the United States and any other accent becomes an insurmountable barrier which results in the Scottish guys being literally, grounded.

BBC Radio 4’s programme, “Word of Mouth” presented by Chris Ledgyard, tackles the complexity of voice recognition and asks, how well can a computer analyse speech?

With difficulty, it seems. The human voice is a complex mixture of your physical characteristics and lifestyle as well as a healthy dose of ‘state of mind’ and ‘social context’. If you’re chatting to a group of friends in a pub, for example, or speaking to your doctor about your health problems, chances are your voice will have a very different blend of characteristics in each situation. A drift of accent, a change in level of relaxation, even a change depending on whether you are sitting or standing will affect your voice pattern and would present a problem for voice recognition technology.

The voice is a very changeable thing. The vocal tract is subject to emotional as well as physical influences and according to forensic speech expert, Peter French, you would never find two matching utterances from the same individual. If you say something as simple as ‘Yes’ a million times, there won’t be an exact pair.

So where does that leave us with our new secure banking access, based on voice? According to the Guardian, banks such as HSBC/First Direct and Barclays are using their customers voices to build up a data bank to help with voice recognition. Once the customer has submitted enough vocal material, they can choose to use voice recognition rather than a password. Santander plc have gone further and their approved customers are able to transfer money by their voice alone.

Should we be worried about the security of our bank accounts if they are voice activated? Have you had a good or bad experience of voice recognition technology? If so, please me know.

For more information and help on how to speak clearly to a human or a machine, in any accent, please do get in touch.

Ditch the dull monotone! Wake up your voice! 

Sound of Music to make your voice sound more interestingThe Greek word for “one tone” is monotonia, which is the root for both monotone and the closely-related word monotonous, which means “dull and tedious.” A continuous sound, especially someone’s voice, that doesn’t rise and fall in pitch, is a monotone.

Know someone in your office that sounds that way? Could it be you?

Wouldn’t it be exciting if people we encountered on a daily basis had interesting, compelling voices, the sort of sound we really enjoyed listening to?

Our voices can go into ‘auto-pilot’ and information can be trotted out routinely, with very little alteration to the pitch throughout the entire sentence. You think you sound boring, other people think you sound boring, and valuable information can be buried in a deep, dull, voice.

This needn’t be the case!

To wake up your voice a little, just try the following steps:

  1. Hum up the scale of ‘Doh, ray, me, far, so, lah, tea, doh’ (as Julie Andrews in ‘The Sound of Music’!)
  2. Repeat going back down the scale.
  3. Now substitute the words, “This is how my voice can sound good” for each of the notes up and then down the scale.
  4. Next, ‘say’ the words instead of using a ‘singing voice’, to normalise the sound.
  5. Finally, choose a word you wish to emphasise and use a higher note for that word.

It takes practise to use your voice to highlight words using the pitch of your voice but you’ll be surprised at how effective it can be. Listen to BBC radio broadcasters and notice how they use their voices to emphasise words using pitch. Practise making your voice start on a higher pitch and gradually getting lower until you ‘land’ on the final ‘note’. Practise starting low, going higher and finishing low again.

Most importantly, enjoy what you are saying. Your enthusiasm should help to release your voice to be more expressive and convey your ideas, giving them life and sparking interest…

For more information on using pitch, tone and intonation, get in touch.

Warm up your articulators and celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday!

ShakespeareDid you know that it was Shakespeare’s birthday on 23 April? The Bard, as he is known, was responsible for introducing hundreds of new words into the English language back in the 1600s, many of which we still use today.

Manager, Ladybird, Inaudible, Swagger and Laughable are among those first penned by Shakespeare. Less common terms are Clay-brained, Dog-hearted, Paper-faced and Rump-fed. Words creating a compliment include Honey-tongued, Tiger-booted, Wafer-cake and Smilet.

Shakespeare’s words are so cleverly crafted but many have fallen out of favour. Nevertheless – there is plenty of opportunity to use his expressions as an articulation warm-up, before an important speech.

Using your tongue and lips to their fullest potential, try saying:
‘Thou thunder darting, tiger booted, canker blossom”. Or how about, ‘Thou peevish, shag-eared rabbit-sucker’? Slow the words right down for the fullest effect.

If you really want to get your articulators moving, this one will certainly help:
‘Thou waggish, peevish, grizzled, white-livered clot pole.’ Not one to try on your director if you’re looking for the next rung on the career ladder, perhaps.

Shakespeare can be a lot of fun. Using just a few of his less common words as a warm up releases you from the ordinary and takes you to the unexpected. This helps with slowing your speech down a little and giving your lips and tongue time to fully form the sounds of the words.

Good luck with that, thou celestial, young-eyed cuckoo-bud!

For more information on how to improve your articulation, get in touch.

Speech Habits – get the best from your voice

Barak Obama demonstrates good use of voiceWhat do you want from your voice? To inspire others..? To lead your team…? To convey your ideas with enthusiasm and clarity…?

How can you achieve that and what is stopping you?

Over time we all develop poor habits and the way we routinely use our voice is no exception. Unchallenged, we will go on speaking the way we always have done and wonder why

  • we don’t get promoted
  • others seem more successful
  • we suffer from a lack of confidence when speaking.

I hear people who speak too quickly, mumble, have a strong accent or who are simply nervous about speaking in front of others and these speech habits can block our progress.

If we speak in a certain way and don’t receive any guidance, our speech habits become embedded, and we don’t even think about it. Try folding your arms. Now do it again, but cross them the other way round. The second way will probably feel strange and slightly uncomfortable, even unbalanced. This can quickly showed you an embedded habit.

The ‘new’ way may feel different for a short time, but undertaken routinely, this way soon becomes the new habitual and embeds into muscle memory.

Five key ingredients for improved speech habits are:

  • Pitch
  • Pace
  • Pause
  • Projection
  • Passion

Try taking yourself out of your speech comfort zone – if you experience more, you may have more tumbles but you develop higher levels of ability through finding and using good speech habits.

For help to release you from your speech habits, get in touch.

Mumbling? Or has the cat just got your tongue?

MumblingThe new big budget drama from the BBC, ‘SS Great Britain’, has been slammed for poor sound quality – in particular actors’ mumbling. More than 1.5million of the 7m viewers switched off before the end of the first episode.

Like the BBC’s ‘Jamaica Inn’, viewers struggled to interpret what characters were saying and, frustrated at failing to catch key words and phrases, voted with the OFF button.

It´s one thing to make an ‘artistic interpretation’ of the script when playing a character when you are an actor, but if you´re at the sharp end of business – clear diction is essential – no mumbling.

One of the fundamentals of marketing is that to have successful communication, there must be a meaningful transmission of information on one side and meaningful reception of that information on the other. When you speak, your listeners must hear what you want them to hear. Clarity, tone and articulation are essential if you want your message to be received and understood. No drama, no mumbling, just good speech skills.

New Year, New Career… New Interview Voice!

Interview panelFIDGET fidget; knee bouncing… Check papers, check notes… Mentally rehearse opening lines of interview… Think of an example of a time where I demonstrated leadership/innovation/inspiration…?

It’s the interview season, the time of New Year’s resolutions, the time to make the most of your potential. You challenge yourself to progress your career and carefully modify your CV. Then begins the round of interviews and the opportunity to display some of your sparkling interpersonal skills.

However, before you begin, think, ‘how does my voice sound?’ Does your voice make you sound interesting? Do you speak too quickly or perhaps you need to speak more clearly? Make sure these comments from recruitment agencies don’t relate to you:
“He was a great candidate on paper, but he tended to mumble, he let himself down, really.”
“I noticed she had a tendency to fidget, which was off-putting, plus she spoke so quickly I couldn’t catch everything she said.”
“He knew so much but the way he spoke was really dull. His voice was just a monotone.”

There are many aspects to an interview that you can practise before the big day to improve your posture and speech skills and avoid those pitfalls. As well as writing your CV and covering letter, put your energies into improving your voice by doing ‘speak-out-loud rehearsals’.

Here are five top speaking tips to help you triumph in an interview. Improving your speech skills ahead of the interview will ensure you make the most of your voice in front of those dreaded interrogators:

  1. Rehearse your opening sentences with which to impress the interviewer(s)
  2. Speak your prepared words aloud, using the range of your voice to sound interesting
  3. Record your voice, speak clearly, listen back, make notes and repeat
  4. Film yourself, watch back and again, modify your approach and repeat
  5. Remember to take time to breathe.

On the day of interview, you will be a Professional Voice User. You are potentially the next Head of Department / Director of Operations / Senior Partner and your voice matters. Make your voice interesting and be fluent. The time you have invested into rehearsals will pay dividends. Listen to the interview questions and respond using an interesting voice. Your voice and body language can boost or break your career.

Here is a short checklist to help you prepare your voice, calm your nerves and shine at your next interview:

  1. Rehearse what you are going to say – out loud, several times to warm up your voice
  2. Take time to have a sip of water during your interview, it lubricates your voice
  3. Remember to breathe before you begin to speak
  4. Maintain good posture, both seated and standing
  5. Resist any temptation to fidget, sit still and maintain good eye contact
  6. Use the range of your voice to good effect and speak clearly
  7. Practise pausing to add weight and impact to your words.

Enjoy a sparkling career in 2017 and for more information on voice coaching, get in touch.