Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Weaponize your voice

Use your voice as your secret weapon. That's the advice I give my clients. And if you have ever had the experience of feeling like your words were going nowhere, that you were speaking into a void, that you just were never going to be heard, such a strategy is something you should consider.

Many experts, coaches, and consultants (myself included) will tell you that judgments about you hinge as much on how you sound as how you look. That sounding like a leader is every bit as important as looking like one (see Romney, Willard Mitt). But most people will concentrate on crafting their content, their position statements, their speeches or talking points, and not think twice about what their tone conveys. About what they sound like, and what that signifies to the listener. Unless you are trying to overcome the handicap of not fitting the traditional leadership image (see Clinton, Hillary Rodham ) the tone of your voice might remain a subtle, subconscious influencer.

But it shouldn't, because its power cannot be discounted. The "power of voice" is a phrase I have heard at many meetings, conferences, symposia. In this phrase "voice" is used metaphorically, in the context of motivation. "Reclaiming their voice" is shorthand for empowering women or members of minorities to stand up and speak out.

I use the phrase, "unleash the power of your voice" with my clients in a much more direct way: use your rich, fully-realized sound to connect with anyone and everyone in your space. When your "instrument" (your breathe, voice, resonators) is working efficiently and well, it sends your sound vibrations out to the farthest corners of the room. You reach everyone. And touch them--literally--with those waves of sound. The more overtones and undertones you have (think of a rich chord played on the organ), the more your sound touches people.

If you are a fan of live music of any kind you already now this. Why would we rather hear our favorite musicians play at a live event? On recordings they are closer to perfection than in their performances. But the cost of that mediated perfection is the immediacy of sharing the space with the musicians, of sharing their energy, of feeling their vibrations run through us in a thrilling physical sensation.

I saw a brilliant illustration of this recently on Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyessy. In the April 6th episode, "Hiding in the Light," host and astrophysicst Neil deGrasse Tyson  explains the spectral code of light, juxtaposing the way light waves travel with the way sounds waves do. We listen to the great organ in Benedikbeuern Abbey play "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana as we watch visible sound waves pulse and expand throughout the space.

That is what your voice can do, if you learn to "play" it. Your sound waves, your voice, your message can reach out and touch each and every one of your listeners. When your sound grabs them that way, people will listen!

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