What Makes a Voice Effective?


I recently read an article about the voices of the apps Headspace and Calm. The experts consulted for that article reiterated what makes a voice effective in "putting people in the zone." One, the director of research and innovation at Brown University's Mindfulness Center, said, "The content obviously is important, but I think the tone, cadence, and the space that people provide between the instructions probably matter as much as - if not more than - what they're actually saying." 

The other, a fellow speech/language pathologist, broke down the aspects of human voice that make it pleasant-sounding this way: Breath-supported voices convey a sense a sense of control and confidence. Speaking at a slower pace tends to calm a listener and make it easier to process what's being said, and using the appropriate level of loudness and volume for the setting is important. As for tone of voice, a warm, rich-speaking voice is often universally liked; and the final key component is inflection: a melodious voice sounds more invested and confident.

This isn't surprising or new information, but does further substantiate the important role that voice plays in conveying a message and convincing a listener. Many people are aware of that frequently cited study claiming that 93% of communication is comprised of voice and body language and that the other 7% was accounted for with the words.

What's interesting to me is the fact that so many people still neglect this natural resource, when investing in it could be their most powerful tool in both social and business communication success. Further, a majority of people surveyed say that they don't like the sound of their voices. Why don't they change it?? Is it because they don't believe such change is possible? What many people fail to realize is just how malleable our voices and speech patterns are, and the huge role habit plays in both.

If feedback is telling you that your communication style is lacking, or if you are not happy and comfortable with the way you present to yourself and others, do the work necessary to address these critical issues. Invest in your voice and communication skills. I promise you, they are a sure return.