As a business leader, you want to make a positive impact — on your team, on the bottom line, maybe even on the world.
Being so time-poor can make this challenging. You need tactics and tools that can be put to use right away; you need to be able to see a difference, fast.
That’s why developing your leadership communication skills is a smart move. Communication is a daily process, so making sure that it’s as impactful as it can be is the secret to successful business leadership. And making a few simple changes to your communication style and/or process can deliver immediate results.
Whether it’s learning the art of business storytelling, constructive conflict, or simply how to be a conscious communicator in all your business dealings, leadership communication training is valuable on all levels. But today, I want to discuss an often ignored aspect of communication for leadership success: the voice.
Why voice is a business leader’s secret weapon
We’ve mentioned before how Stephen Fry is a wonderful example of someone who uses voice to great effect. And no, you might not be auditioning for the next Harry Potter movie. But you are, whenever you begin to talk, reaching out to another human being with the greatest, most developed communication tool mankind has at its disposal: voice.
What we’re really speaking about here is the ‘auditory’ element of our P.A.V.E.R.S® methodology, which addresses some key things:
- The use of voice as an instrument
- Vocal roles: Colleague, Educator, Motivator, Coach
Because meetings and corporate presentations have a reputation for being a little on the dull side, it’s up to you to make your delivery engaging and entertaining. This is one of the most effective leadership communication strategies we can share with you. Here are 4 auditory communication tips you can put into practice right away.
Leadership communication skills: 4 auditory communication tips
If you ever studied singing or acting, you’ll know how important it is to project your voice. As my old drama teacher used to say, “can the deaf old grandma at the back of the room hear you?”. It’s not just about volume, it’s also about enunciation.
A classic component of successful public speaking is delivering at a good pace. Too fast and it becomes difficult for the listener to follow. Too slow and the presentation loses momentum — and your audience loses interest.
Some say that a good benchmark is to speak slow enough that, if you were reciting a phone number, the person listening to you would be able to write it down.
Tone and pitch are extremely important components of leadership communication skills. Speech in a monotone is very dull to listen to, while nasal tones are commonly considered to be annoying (think Janice from the TV show Friends).
Record yourself speaking to various people and in different situations to hear what happens to the tone of your voice. Try to strike a balance between confident and authoritative, and friendly-approachable.
You’ve heard the terms, “pause for effect” and “pregnant pause” right? The pause is “pregnant” because of what’s inside it. You might think there’s nothing there, just empty space. But that’s not true. In that pause, there’s understanding. There might be shock, or maybe suspense. A pause is as useful a communication construct as any word.
Practice makes perfect
As an exercise, practise saying, “red leather, yellow leather”. Insert a pause in a slightly different place each time you say it and consider how it changes the quality of the delivery.
Play around with pace and tone when you’re practising. Say it in the shower, in a large hall or church, in a meeting room and boardroom to observe how it changes and how projection helps.
A good way to maintain high engagement levels throughout your delivery is to vary pace, projection, tone and vocal roles. It might be a good idea, for example, to speak with a very fast voice when conveying a child in a story, or to play with projection at key moments in your delivery. The use of your voice should be just as planned out for effect as your words, gestures or movements.
Practising your leadership communication skills is just as important as learning the theory. Business leaders/managers who want to build their influence and lead with impact need to develop and practise communicating in a strong, well trained voice.
Virtual Reality (VR) is a great way to develop your auditory communication skills because it allows you to practise in a non-threatening but realistic virtual environment. It’s so powerful in fact, that we’re now offering our Mastering Communication program in a bundle with our VR training app. So you can learn all the tools and techniques of superior leadership and communication skills, and then practise them ‘til your heart’s content. Sign up now and become a better leader.
The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their leadership skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.
Erica Bagshaw is an entrepreneur, Executive Coach and Co-Founder of The Colin James Method® and Inner Profit Pty Ltd a vibrant leadership development company in Australia. She has spent the majority of her career growing and developing close client partnerships. She loves sharing her expertise on the perfect pitch.