Rightly or wrongly people make lasting assumptions based on first impressions and, I think its fair to say that if you speak with no vocal inflection at all most people will think you sound a bit weird – or if we’re being kind, a lot like a robot. If ‘selling is essentially a transfer of feelings’ (Zig Ziglar, I believe) then your voice is one of the most powerful weapons you have. Using it effectively will enhance not only your pitch but the outcome of your pitch.
In Andrew Dlugan’s excellent article on vocal variety, he suggests that you:
Plan Around the 4 P’s: Pace, Pitch, Power, and Pauses
Be conscious of all four major vocal variables, and work all of them into your speech.
- Pace — One of the easiest ways to incorporate variable pace is to slow down through key statements.
- Pitch — A convenient way to hit different pitch points is to play with different emotional content. A sad voice takes on a different pitch than a content voice, which is distinct from an excited voice, and so on. Stories are good speech building blocks for many reasons, including how they bring a speaker’s voice alive through different emotions.
- Power (Volume) — Don’t overdo it with changes in volume. Again, align your variations in volume with emotional content. Anger or joy tends to bring out a loud voice. Fear or sadness calls for a quiet voice.
- Pauses — There are a multitude of ways to incorporate pauses in a meaningful way (watch for a future Six Minutes article dedicated to pauses). For this speech, keep it straightforward. Make sure you’ve got short pauses following every sentence, and longer pauses at the ends of paragraphs or transitions within your speech.
And if you don’t believe him, watch this very entertaining TED talk to see how you can make anything (and nothing) sound fascinating if you apply these techniques: