Don’t you use that tone with me…

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Have you ever sat through a presentation, and it could barely hold your attention?

The speaker drones on…
“…and in this chart you can see the market share projection…”

Ug take me out back and shoot me.

Are you engaging when you speak? Photo "Preacher" by daliscar1, Flicker, CC-By-2.0
Are you engaging when you speak? Photo “Preacher” by daliscar1, Flicker, CC-By-2.0

Vocal tones, speed, and silence are the punctuation to our spoken words. But most people —you and I included— forget the importance of how we sound.

We are either too focused on getting the information correct…
or we’re not interested in the information ourselves…
or we’re afraid of looking silly.

Which really is a shame — the listener is probably going to forget most of it anyways.

Poet Maya Angelou said,

“I’ve learned that
people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did, but
people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Do you want your audience to feel bored?

The answer should almost* always be, never.

(*let’s discuss this in tomorrow’s email, shall we?)

If your audience gets accustomed your vocal tone and pace, they feel they know what you’ll say next.

And… if they ‘know’ what’s coming next… their mind and attention will wander.

Look, we need to get over the fear that others might find us “silly.” In fact, if they’re judging at all — it’s probably because they’re afraid themselves.

You get ahead when you do what other’s won’t do.

What seems unnatural to us on “the inside”…
the dramatic pauses, the changes in pitch, adjusting your volume and speed…
does not look unnatural from the outside.

It looks engaging, and it makes people notice you and wish they could do the same.

Now, I want you to try this.

Get an audio recording app for your smartphone. Record your voice telling a story, or perhaps you’re on a telephone call—

Go ahead and record it. I’ll wait.

Ok, now listen to that recording… if you dare.

Can you hear your own disinterest?

Your audience can.

Most people hate the sound of their own voice. Maybe it’s because you know you’re not engaging like a Sunday preacher.

If you were a song, Casey Kasem would never let you on American Top 40.

A song is the most boring song ever… if it has no melody to hook the ear.

Interesting songs go up and down… and up… and up… and down again…

Your own voice could be doing this same thing.

If you think of a staircase (aka a musical scale) you want your voice to mimic that staircase. Sometimes it’s going to go ᵘᵖ… sometimes it’s gotta go down

Your voice doesn’t exist for you. (…like clothing, but that’s for another letter)

Your brain can think without using your voice. Your voice isn’t for you.

No, your voice exists to project with confidence the words coming out, to the ears of your listeners.

Your voice is a tool, and one that we could all learn how to use better. Myself included.


Keep your focus,