Ouch: I Can Hear You Now

Much emphasis has been placed on getting the right education, crafting the right visual identity and making the right professional moves. The highly competitive world of business is unforgiving; saying the wrong thing in an email or on social media can doom a person’s career. It seems that everyone is focused on looking good and being exceptional.

So why hasn’t anyone thought about what they sound like when they open their mouth and speak? So many educated, impressive individuals teeter between sounding like Minnie Mouse and Marilyn Monroe (or Daffy Duck and Gilbert Gottfried) on their best days.

Close your eyes and recall the vocal qualities that most impress you. Is the voice animated and energetic? Confident, measured and impactful? Strong and smooth? Clark Gable not giving a damn in Gone with the Wind? Cuba Gooding showing me the money in Jerry Maguire? Meryl Streep being painfully dismissive in The Devil Wears Prada? The corresponding perceptions create long-lasting personas. Shrill and whiny elicits nails on a chalkboard whereas commanding, clear, and crisp is confidently reassuring. Given how many mountains are moved using the phone – especially in today’s global environment – wouldn’t you prefer to be the one voice that people actually want to listen to?

If you’re old enough to remember tape recorders, you probably engaged in the exercise of taping your voice and playing it back in front of others. The reaction was usually one of surprise – because it can be very surprising to hear your voice the way others do. Thankfully the technology has improved, which means you can conduct this same exercise with your smartphone.

Self-awareness is a crucial component to business (and personal) success. It’s bad enough peppering your conversations with useless jargon, industry lingo and obscure references. Whatever your message, if it involves the auditory senses, make it resonant through resonance.