I coach folks on personal impact.
Sometimes, I get a little fancy with my coaching.
And then, once in a while, I am reminded that the simplest adjustment often produces the most compelling results.
I stumbled on a chat about upspeak and vocal fry last week, moderated by Terry Gross, host of the Fresh Air program on National Public Radio. Upspeak describes the tendency by some folks to raise their inflection at the end of a sentence. The individual wishes to make a declarative statement but what comes out sounds like a question.
Vocal fry describes the habit of drawing out ends of words and sentences with a low, creaky voice.
Both habits are often ascribed to women. I coach many men, however, who engage in upspeak andvocal fry, as well. These habits significantly impede personal impact.
I chuckle at a line of reasoning proposed by one of Ms. Gross’ guests.
Upspeak and vocal fry are not the problem, she suggests, but our social conditioning that deems these speech patterns unauthoritative is.
It’s my problem and that of others in the room that we find your speech pattern annoying? Good luck in winning that battle!
Here are 3 simple speaking adjustments that will elevate your personal impact by 50%. They are ridiculously simple. Here’s what you do:
1. Keep your sentences short.
Stick to one idea per sentence. Have lots of ideas? Awesome. Start a new sentence for every new idea or message. Run-on sentences are horrid in written documents. They’re an even stronger impact-killer in verbal communication.
2. Stop at the end of a sentence.
Your pause lets me know that a thought is complete. It gives me a moment to absorb your idea. And it allows me to tune into what you’re about to say next. If you don’t pause for 3 sentences in a row, I have already tuned you out!
3. Drop your voice on the last word.
No upspeak please unless you’re asking a question. When your inflection goes down on the final word, I get a sense that you mean what you say and that what you say matters. And while you’re at it, avoid vocal fry, as well.
Ridiculously simple, isn’t it?
Here’s what these adjustments do for you. They bring you into focus. They allow me to hear your message clearly. And even when you don’t feel very authoritative inside, these adjustments help you project a sense that you are.
3 little adjustments. 50%. The impact is that dramatic.