Finding your voice is essential for professional success. Whether in a meeting or giving a presentation, you will earn the respect of your organization’s leadership and your peers if you can clearly articulate your points. To find your voice, try listening to others with strong voices and see how they communicate. You may notice that they have similar communication styles and techniques. Here are some tips to find your voice:
- Develop a strong tone. When delivering a presentation, a clear voice is essential to communicate your message. The tone of your voice reflects your attitude, so it's vital to learn how to control it to sound confident. Practicing this skill is key and can help you overcome common communication barriers. When you’re nervous or excited, the vocal cords tend to shorten and tighten, making it challenging to produce an engaging, energetic and interesting speech.
- Use volume to emphasize points. Using volume to emphasize the most important parts of your speech is necessary to ensure your audience can hear you. Avoid a monotone voice and try to vary the volume of your words. Speaking at a constant volume is tedious and can put your audience to sleep.
- Avoid pitching your voice "up" at the end of sentences. Doing so makes your sentences sound as if you are asking a question. This can be distracting and disorienting. It makes you appear uncertain and like you seek approval, which undermines your credibility. Instead, it is best to keep your pitch even and your sentences interesting.
- Avoid shouting. Raising your voice is rude and may backfire. You should instead speak clearly and distinctly. Try to face and look directly at the person you are talking to. Another good tip is to use appropriate gestures to make your point.
- Be aware of body language. Confident people often have a relaxed and expansive physical presence. This is especially important when presenting or giving a speech because it helps people respect you and pay attention to what you are saying. Developing good body language is a great way to boost your self-esteem. Remember, your posture is important when you want to project authority. Letting your shoulders slump or slouch will give the impression of fatigue or low self-esteem.
- Avoid Using Filler Words. People use filler words (“um,” “like” or “you know”) when they are nervous. Try to avoid saying these words. Instead, take a silent pause to collect your thoughts. Filler words are distractive and diminish your credibility.
One of the most impressive people I have worked with mastered communications skills early in her career. She could captivate the room and clearly articulate her point of view. Although she was in her early 20s and had no experience, leadership listened to what she had to say because she was confident. She did her homework, knew what she was talking about and believed what she was saying. Even though she had just graduated from college at the time, the managing partner gave her opportunities that the others in her cohort could only dream about. Many of you know this woman. She is Sarah Krom, CPA, MST, managing partner at SKC & Co. CPAs, L.L.C., and a past NJCPA president. Sarah is a shining example of someone who found her voice which helped her achieve much professional success.