With the US political campaign season coming to a close, you may have noticed that a stark difference in communication styles exists between the top two candidates. Each candidate resonates with some audiences but not with others. This fact verifies what you already know: you can’t please everyone with your style. Often times when I give examples of style differences at my workshops, I hear complete opposite reactions to the same voice. One person loves the way a speaker communicates and someone else hates it. This dichotomy presents an interesting challenge for you, because as an executive speaker who is trying to resonate with your audience, you know that there are audience members that you just won’t be able to reach.
What is the solution to this dilemma? First of all, consider what is important to you in terms of the way you want to be perceived. Do you want to sound competent? Confident? Sincere? Warm? Once you become clear about that, you can decide whether you sound that way by listening to a recording of your voice. Is your sound aligned with the image you wish to present? If not, changes in your speech, language and voice can be made to be in better alignment. It requires an intentional effort of discovery and change. You may need to solicit the help of someone else to decide. But once you feel good about your sound, you are ready to think about how you can assure a connection with your audience so that your message is heard.
Here are some three tips to keep in mind as you craft, resonating messages that engage your audiences:
1. Intentionally think about your audience and what’s important to them. How can you craft your message so that you connect with them? For example, think about how you might explain your product or your idea to your colleague in the same department as you vs. the way you might explain it to a customer vs. how you might explain it to your spouse vs. the way you might explain it to a child. Each audience has a particular interest and level of understanding. But meeting your audience’s needs will give them the most value so think about how you can communicate “what’s in it for them.” Then, choose your vocabulary carefully to speak to their needs.
2. Use the word “you” and “your” as often as possible. If you like to talk about your ideas with “we” or “I,” you will not resonate with your audience. When you use “you,” it sounds like you are speaking directly to the audience. Consider these two sentences. “We designed this product to make a big difference in the lives of others,” Vs. “You can make a big difference in the lives of your friends and colleagues if you use this product.” Hear the difference and the effect it has on you?
3. Be conversational by using a lot of vocal pitch variety. If you have ever heard a flat, monotone speaker, you know what I’m talking about. The message isn’t interesting or meaningful. Pitch variety will make you an enjoyable, fun-to-listen-to and captivating speaker.
These three tactics alone can make a big difference in how well your audience receives your message. Be intentional about the way you want to sound first and then use the language of the audience you are speaking to in order to resonate effectively with them. And remember to use a lot of vocal variety so that you sound more conversational.
Lynda Stucky coaches mid-senior level executives on using their speech and voice effectively to establish credibility, position themselves within their company, and enhance their reputation as a topic authority. She provides training through one-on-one coaching and online courses to reduce foreign accents, “redd-up” regional accents, and teach speech and voice branding for image control. She is President of ClearlySpeaking, and is a certified and licensed speech-language pathologist. She is the author of "Voice Branding for Executives: How to Align Your Speech, Language, and Voice Skills with Your Professional Goals." Her background in speech pathology offers unique skills for dealing with professional communication skills in the corporate world. She believes communication skills should not hold anyone back from achieving personal and professional goals.