Leaders who practice conscious, courteous, courageous, culturally sensitive language arts rise to the top. It is human nature to follow those who lead by example, inspire us, and who appear confident and poised.
Such traits are no accident. The best leaders manage themselves to convey a dynamic energy, stage presence, and powerful communications. You only have a few seconds to make a first impression. What impression do you choose to make?
Think of it like this: you walk in confidently, looking pulled together, and then open your mouth to speak. Does what comes out match the visual cues received from looking at you? That is, do you sound as good as you look?
Your voice speaks volumes about your confidence level, your education, socioeconomic stature, and your roots. And your voice can be managed to help you be a more effective leader.
Think of a leader you admire, a singer you love, an actor you envy, a speaker that rocks your world. What it is about them? She/he likely has a style, a way of communicating, that makes her/him stand out. An understanding of their brand.
Forbes says in an ideal world all leaders would be great communicators. Warren Buffett says your value goes up by 50% when you learn to public speak well. If you have ever been to a Berkshire Hathaway shareholders’ meeting you have experienced the leadership tag team of Warren and Charlie and their straightforward, polite, and funny leadership.
Plus, you make more money when you “sound right” meaning that you possess a certain quality, a richness, and an ability to stay in the moment when you present. According to The Economist: People who “sound right” also have a marked advantage in the race for the top.
Quantified Communications, a Texas-based company, asked people to evaluate speeches delivered by 120 executives. They found that voice quality accounted for 23% of listeners’ evaluations and the content of the speech only accounted for 11%. Academics from the business schools of the University of California, San Diego and Duke University listened to 792 male CEOs giving presentations to investors and found that those with the deepest voices earned $187,000 a year more than the average.
This post invites you to follow the advice of Dr. Miluna, an accomplished actor and businesswoman who helps leaders develop strong voices, confidence, and personal power. Dr. Miluna says to think of your voice as having height, width, depth, air, energy, and dimension as it travels out through the auditorium, boardroom, city streets, or video camera.
When you speak, your face is the amplifier.
The human face has 57 muscles and 22 bones. When you speak, your face is the amplifier. Look into a mirror and study your facial muscles, skeletal structure, lips, teeth, tongue, gums, your breath … everything that works together to make up your unique vocal sound. Speaking with your head but not your face, is like a speaker without an amplifier as you are using only ~7% of your body parts that could be engaged in conveying what you intend.
In a world of 7.8 billion people, only you have your voice; your voice is one in 7.8 billion! You can deliver in a way that allows your message to land, your product to be sold, your influence to be felt, your funding goals reached. Excellent communication is a skill that can be taught, learned, and managed, to help you be a better leader.
The following three tips for female leaders and three tips for male leaders are consolidated from Dr. Miluna’s ten years experience coaching successful executives to be more dynamic in order to be more effective speakers and presenters. They are the first steps in her recipe for success through speaking!
The following tips are geared more for women:
- Never apologize. Stop saying: “Sorry”. Some say “sorry” because of where they are from, how they were raised, they are not sure of themselves, or lack of self-awareness. Whatever the reason, it does not serve well to humble yourself in front of a high-stakes audience.
(NOTE: The above tip does not refer to when you need to make a genuine apology to someone. When you do, do not text or email the apology. Get on the phone, video, or in person and make a sincere apology. Relationships take too long to build and can be destroyed so easily when misunderstandings happen.)
- Decide how your voice will sound. A voice that is too soft or too high pitched or too young sounding is frequently confused with meekness or kindness and not linked to confidence and credibility. Don’t let your voice come across however it may happen. Decide how you want to sound and then make it come out that way.
- Stand up tall and support your projection by lifting your chest and expanding your rib cage. Take up more space. Widen your ribs and stance slightly. This immediately makes you look more confident and in charge.
These tips are geared more for men:
- Smile Dr. Miluna worked with a CFO who said he presents only to CFOs and they don’t smile, so he didn’t need to either. While money is a serious topic, your message can be delivered in a highly informative and enlightening way. A few smiles show you have a personality and sense of humor and that you know how to connect to folks in the room.
- Demonstrate sensitivity Consciously read and respond to the energy in the room. Self-awareness and emotional intelligence (EQ) will only serve you and your career.
- Sit. If you are a tall guy with a big deep voice, you may be intimidating to women and other men. When partnering with another company or selling something, consider sitting down around a table for a more friendly exchange and less resistance.
Contact Dr. Miluna at firstname.lastname@example.org