Why Your Voice Matters, Part 2 – You Had Me at Hello = It’s SCIENCE. [Episode 3]
(transcript) Hey, welcome to episode number 3 of Voicing Your Brand, where we will talk about all things business, branding, and using your voice for success. Today, more about WHY your voice matters. Apparently, it’s science.
A few years ago when I was leaving my job at a university to go full time into voiceover, I was given the task of helping to interview my replacement. We had several applications come in, and once we reviewed those and chose the top candidates, it was time to continue the process with the telephone interview. That’s right – we had nothing to go on but the job application, a resume, and the person’s voice. And let me tell you, that was quite an experience. As my manager and I started this process, we were absolutely floored by the number of applicants we disqualified because they either couldn’t put a cohesive sentence together, or they mumbled, or talked too fast so that we couldn’t hear their very important words. Sometimes, they just sounded like they didn’t even want This process of a telephone interview is often the first hurdle to overcome when interviewing for a highly prized position in a company.
So, I’m just gonna come out and say it: you are being judged for your voice.
Okay, you know – there have been voice coaches since probably the beginning of modern business- vocal coaches to help you with speech, singing, breathing, vocal health, and so on – so there’s been this need to help people have a better voice, especially for business for a very long time. I mean, have you seen Singing in the Rain? The whole premise of that movie was that it was difficult for some actors and actresses to make the transition from silent films to talkies because their voices were hard to listen to. Somehow, we just knew that if we improved certain things about our voice and our speech, we would be better heard.
Now, we’ve all heard that it takes 7 seconds to make a good first impression. Okay, that may be true about your appearance and your mannerisms, but when it comes to your voice – that time shrinks down to about one second. Yeah. You are being judged. I’ve always assumed that appearance played the biggest role in how people form opinions about us, but according to recent research from the University of Glasgow, our brains make strong and unconscious judgments about people based on the way they speak. Now, I am a researcher at heart – so reading this information was like music to my ears. Let me nerd out on this with you for a minute or two –
Picture this – University of Glasgow, in Scotland. They’ve brought in 64 people, both men and women, and recorded them reading a paragraph that contained the word HELLO. Then each recording was edited so that they extracted just that one word, Hello. They then had 320 participants listen to those Hellos and match them with a personality trait such as trustworthiness, aggressiveness, confidence, dominance, warmth, and so on. I think there were ten choices altogether.
What the researchers found was that the participants largely agreed on which voice matched which personality trait. One male voice was overwhelmingly voted the least trustworthy, The pitch of the untrustworthy voice was much lower than the male deemed most trustworthy. Keep in mind that it didn’t matter if that was TRUE about this participant – but, just by his voice alone, people judged him as being not trustworthy.
Now, the speculation on that is it’s probably because a higher pitched male voice is closer to the natural pitch of a female, making the men sound less aggressive and friendlier than the lower male voices.
Another interesting finding is that what makes females sound more trustworthy is whether their voices rise or fall at the end of the word, “Probably the trustworthy female, when she drops her voice at the end, is showing a degree of certainty and so can be trusted.”
Keep in mind, again, that it didn’t matter if the assessment of the person based on their voice was TRUE. What mattered is that the results were consistent and that the person was perceived to have a certain personality trait just by one word. Hello.
There’s a famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire – “you had me at hello.” Seriously, those screenwriters were on to something. In fact, this phenomena has been called The Jerry Maguire Effect, for that reason.
Now, the data from that study is being further dissected by other universities to find out exactly what makes up the sound of being trustworthy – should be interesting. And there are some other studies, including one at Yale University, which showed that it’s easier for people to comprehend emotions from a voice alone, rather than watching a video where they can see facial expressions and body language…
… but we are not going to overthink this. Your voice is part of your genetic makeup. Your blueprint. In many cases, it is what it is – but just as you can do exercises to enhance your physical appearance, you can do the same to enhance your voice. No heavy lifting required.
Now, I realize that this new information might terrify you – or it might make you very happy. Maybe you’ve been wondering why your message isn’t being heard. Maybe this is the first time you’ve ever thought about how your voice might be holding you back. From that promotion… from building your audience on social media… even from being heard by your kids or at your job. We will get into the topic of self-assessment in a future episode, but for now it’s so important to be aware of what people might be assuming about you based on hearing your voice. Your voice sets up expectations for how you’re going to behave, how funny you are, how high your energy is, and even how accessible or believable you are. This mental image-making is based solely on the sound of your voice and the energy you present. Wouldn’t you like your message to be the most powerful it can be?
So, I’m gonna give you a little challenge now – and some homework. Ask 3 or 4 friends or family members what they think when they hear your voice. Be sure to tell them to be honest and that you are on a journey to improve the way you communicate, and that you are learning how to use your voice for success.
I’d love to hear your responses – what do you think is most important for you to work on? I’d really love to know, and it will help me plan future episodes of this podcast. Would you send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know?
Anyway – thanks for joining me today – now that you know the science behind using your voice for success – isn’t it going to be much easier to make yourself the guinea pig and experiment with your message and delivery? All the articles I’ve mentioned will be linked in the show notes – just go to tamiromani.com/vyb003 and you’ll see them!
This has been fun – I’ll catch you again next time!
(transcript) You might be a business owner, an entrepreneur – maybe you are working hard climbing the corporate ladder – when I say Brand Voice – what do you think of? Some experts talk about your brand voice being your overall message. While that is true, it’s not what I mean when I talk about Voicing Your Brand. Your brand is YOU. And your physical voice is so important. Those who hold the power of the word hold the power of the world (or at least a portion of it.) Life is not lived on a keyboard. What you say is important, but how you say it is vital. In order to be successful in the workplace, as a creative or any type of entrepreneur, or your education, you must cultivate the ability to communicate well. The delivery system of your message matters.
Everyone has a vocal quality or speech habit that makes them cringe.
Think back for a minute to the last time you tuned out or turned off a speaker because you couldn’t listen to their voice. Maybe it was a webinar where you were really interested in the topic, a work meeting, a live video by someone who really knows their stuff, or maybe even a preacher with a great message but a voice that grates on you like fingernails on a chalkboard.
For me, it was pretty recently. I turned on a video from an online trainer who is really up on all the latest tech gadgets for live broadcasting – I wanted to hear his information, but less than 3 minutes in to the broadcast, I turned it off and moved on. Why? He paused and said UM, about every 6th word or so. So we’re not talking about finishing your thoughts and pausing by using UM as a filler word while you gather your next thoughts together – this was a habit, and UM was inserted multiple times in each sentence! It frustrated me so much that his valuable message was lost. I was ready to move on and find someone else to learn the same information from. Normally, my pet peeve that I can’t listen to is vocal fry, but in this case I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t listen.
So what’s your speech awareness IQ? I want you to think about this because it’s important to understand that we ALL have some vocal quality that we just cannot listen to, and before we can talk about fixing our own missteps, we need to learn all the ways a message can be left unheard simply because the voice sharing that message needs a bit of work.
I recently asked this question on Facebook:
What is a vocal quality or speech habit that you cannot listen to and makes you tune out?
Here are some of the actual comments I received on that post:
Upspeak and vocal fry.
Vocal fry. And it’s everywhere. If someone is saying something and is using vocal fry, it basically discredits everything they’re saying to me. I can’t help it. I just can’t stand it.
Saaaaaame. Thanks, this American Life.
Monotonous and sing-songy – both equally awful
when they lilt up (like you would when asking a question) repeatedly during the sentence. do you know what i mean?
there was a story on NPR about upspeak and vocal fry that I found fascinating
What i REALLY hate is when people use “like” multiple times in every sentence!
The other day I stopped listening to a pretty big influencer who had valuable information to share because every 6th word or so was UM.
Poor grammar, filler words “um” “like”…
Smacking lips and ums
Comment: What is vocal fry?
answer: several posts of YouTube videos Kim Kardashian
some speakers, esp women, have a way of speaking that makes me think of kindergarten teachers…very high pitched, there’s a quilt lady who talks like this, very grating. And yes, I know that sometimes it’s just a person’s voice, but, ugg.
Speaking in too high a pitch
flatline —— no interest
A low, quiet tone. It is hard to hear, and it seems that the presenter is just not engaged in the effort of communicating to his or her audience. And one more… Vocal Fry. So ostentatious and annoying. Get over it, ladies!
Nasality. I just can’t.
Mispronunciation of common words:
ex-cetera, realator, Nuculer
People who take forever to get to the point, and people who keep talking after they’ve made their point.
“I’m all” ….blah blah
“He goes”… blah blah
Three things are speech-killers for me:
1) When the speaker doesn’t engage with the audience.
2) When a speaker reads their notes as individual sentences rather than in a conversational tone.
3) When a speaker states a key point, immediately followed by “what I mean by that is…”
“With that said…”
Wet mouth noises.
Hearing someone swallow while talking
It seemed everyone had an opinion, and they were valid.
What we all need to recognize is that certain speech and vocal habits will make your message harder for people to hear.
I’m going to insert here something really important – You are your brand. You are who you are, and that includes your voice. But just as you can enhance your physical image by changing how you dress or some of your habits, or mannerisms, you can enhance your vocal quality as well – without changing who you are at your core. You want to be heard – or you probably wouldn’t be here, am I right?
Thanks so much for joining me in the studio today – I hope I’ve given you something to think about – be sure to visit the show notes at tamiromani.com/vyb002 for links I’ve mentioned.
I want to leave you with this one thought – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “O, how wonderful is the human voice! It is indeed the organ of the soul!”
Your voice matters. Your story matters. What you say is important, but how you say it is vital. So let’s work together to unlock your authentic voice so you can be heard. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll see you next time…
What’s your “cation” mode? All three are applicable to different stages and seasons in life, amiright?
I’ll admit, I dream of a day when I can go on a real VACATION again and not bring any work along. But for now, I spend about an hour (sometimes two) a day working when I’m away from home. Mostly carry-on, keep the business going kind of stuff – but when you are a freelancer and depend upon the (sometimes last minute) needs of your clients to keep income flowing, it’s kind of a no-brainer to do a bit of work while on vacation.
Even so, I never thought of it as a real SLAYCATION until last year when I was camping in Yosemite and during my daily quick email check I found an invitation to do the voiceover for an explainer video for Bitcoin. So what did I do? I recorded that voiceover in the motorhome, then wrapped up my laptop and rode my bike in the rain to the lodge for slooooow wifi to send the file to the client, and I got PAID. Yep. SLAY-cation mode in full swing.
This was my setup that week. Usually, it’s pillows and blankets strategically arranged on a hotel bed. Or using the luggage rack or an ironing board to create a cubby underneath. Whatever works. Voiceover actors are notorious for setting up mobile recording studios in every situation. (If you’re curious, just search “vo pillow fort” on Facebook and several photos will pop up.) In fact, one of my friends did her first audition for a background voice role for Incredibles 2 from a pillow fort makeshift studio in a hotel room! It’s a thing. (Yes, she got the job.)
Or sometimes, we just use a kitchen table. Like that time sitting at an antique kitchen table about 5 years ago in Italy…
Whether you are a full time entrepreneur or working a side hustle in the evenings and on weekends, you know the value of showing up for your business. Whenever. Wherever. It’s what we do.
So today, I celebrate you!
Whether you choose to take a VACATION, stay close to home and STAYCATION, or take your work with you for a SLAYCATION. I get you.
It’s a Saturday in July, and I’d tell you to take a day off – but you’re probably working. 😉
No matter what, I know you’ll make every moment count.
To your success,
P.S. If you know you should be on a slaycation this season, but are choking up when you want to chat live with your tribe on social media, I think the Brand Voice Roundtable Facebook group might be helpful. Sit with us at the table and explore ways to tell your brand’s story. It’s also a safe space to practice delivering your message – we will cheer you on, I promise! There’s a seat for you at the table – just fill in the form below to join!
And doesn’t laryngitis always happen at the WORST possible time? Waking up one day and not having a voice can set you back days or even weeks if you had things planned like videos, podcasting or live broadcasts. Unfortunately, there’s no immediate fix, but there are measures you can take to lessen the inflammation and perhaps heal a bit faster.
How did you get laryngitis?
Losing your voice could be from one or a combination of several reasons –
a virus causing an upper respiratory infection (aka the common cold),
overuse – just too much talking or singing,
smoking or exposure to smoke or polluted air,
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) Google it – it’s a thing,
and, my personal new non-favorite: allergies!
Any or all of these situations can cut your voice down like a sword-wielding pirate taking over a ship.
You are at the mercy of time.
Yes, TIME. Although there are a few things you can do to speed up the clock a bit.
Rest your voice. This is the #1 tip for a reason. STOP TALKING. I know it’s incredibly hard, but the more you force your voice to produce sound, the longer you’ll drag this thing out. Get a notepad, a dry erase board, or install a text to speech app on your phone and choose the fun British voice to be you for awhile. Just stop talking.
Don’t whisper. I know, you thought it was okay. But in reality you risk doing more damage when you whisper. (See #1 for communication ideas)
Breathe moist air – got a vaporizer? Use it. Take a nice hot shower, even lean over the sink a few times a day and breathe in some steamy moist air.
Drink water. I originally wrote “drink fluids” in my notes – but really, the only thing you need to be drinking right now is water. Lots and lots of water. This will help hydrate your whole body as well as those pesky dried out vocal chords, and it is a key to healing your voice. Half of your body weight in ounces is a good target. (Here, let me do that math for you: if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water. You’re welcome.)
Drink warm liquids. Yes, this goes along with tip #4, drink water. Your warm liquids could be plain water (maybe add some lemon), or one of the throat calming teas available now such as Throat Coat Tea by Traditional Medicinals or Honey Lemon Throat Comfort by Yogi. If you have a sore throat along with laryngitis, drinking warm water or tea will soothe and moisten your throat. Mmmmmmmmm…
Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can cause dehydration, which can dry out your throat and cause more hoarseness. We are trying to get well, remember?
Avoid caffeine. I know you’re not happy about this, but caffeine can have the same drying effects as alcohol. This is a great time to decaffeinate yourself – or maybe just stick to one coffee instead of your usual five. I mean, how fast do you want to be heard again?
This is by no means an exhaustive list. I’m sure there are combinations of herbs or essential oils that may show great promise in helping to maintain vocal health – in fact, if you’ve found a sure fire way to speed up the healing process after losing your voice, would you let me know about it in the comments? I’d really like to learn about what works for you!
Do you know how to be the voice of your brand while livestreaming on social media and when to hire a professional voice?
“I know I should be going live on social media, but I’m too nervous.”
“How do I connect with people using live video? I just don’t have the personality for that.”
“I don’t like my voice, so I’m sure others won’t either.”
These are just some of the stories we tell ourselves. Have you done it? In this day of instant access to everything, you know you should be connecting with your followers by going live, but you just. can’t. seem. to. take. that. leap.
I’m here to help.
Every brand has a story. How well you tell that story determines your impact on the world. Using live video on social media is the best way to connect personally with your potential clients, but how do you do that?
Let me introduce myself: Hi, my name is Tami Romani, and I’m a Brand Voice Strategist.
What that means is I help small business owners feel comfortable when they are being the voice of their own brand on social media, and I also help them to know when to hire a professional voice, like mine, for maximum impact in their marketing efforts.
As a voiceover talent for more than 30 years, I love being the voice of a brand, but I also know that in this age of social media it’s vital for an entrepreneur to connect with their followers on a much more personal level – with live video on social media. My business owner friends have been coming to me for years for help with feeling better about their voices. Now, more than ever, it’s important for an entrepreneur to learn how to feel comfortable in their own voice when they are going live to connect with their tribe. Just as important is knowing when it’s best to use a professional voice for maximum impact. If my voice isn’t a fit for your brand, I’ll help you find one from my large network of voice-over professionals who are ready and willing to help.
Thanks for stopping by - I'm excited to help you unlock your authentic voice so you can BE HEARD. I wear many hats and have loads and loads of interests, so this blog will be a mix of business tips, health and fitness, midlife wows and maybe some woes, grandparenting and let's throw in some shopping fun for good measure. I know your life is full like mine - so I hope you'll subscribe & interact with us all here - I'm looking forward to connecting!