The ousted Theranos founder and CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, has been the talk of the town for quite some time. At first, it was all about her revolutionary blood-testing technology that managed to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in private funding.
But then, in 2015 after a number of investigative journalists raised doubts about the company’s miraculous finger-prick blood tests, things started to crumble.
The disgraced Holmes is facing a trial over $1 billion fraud, but it’s still baffling how seasoned investors bought into her apparently fake claims.
Her Steve Jobs inspired attire is certainly one of the factors, but it’s that deep-baritone speaking voice that helped her carefully crafted and maintained persona to conquer the male-dominated Silicon Valley.
There’s a lot to learn from the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, and using your voice as a powerful vehicle for success is one of the most important lessons.
1. People With Deeper Voices Are Perceived as Leaders
Have you ever wondered why you prefer certain presidential candidates over the others?
If your answer is that it has to do with their ideas and general attitude, you might be slightly wrong. Of course, what they propagate, stand for, and champion is important, but there’s something else that might influence you on a more subconscious level.
Their voice is what strikes the right chord with you and encourages you to support and vote for them.
Even research corroborates this, as the evidence suggests that having a deeper voice can help politicians win U.S. elections.
Elizabeth Holmes obviously knew this as she deliberately changed her voice in order to come off as more authoritative and trustworthy.
The science behind this is pretty simple and dates back to ancient times – people with lower voices have higher levels of testosterone which in turn means that they’re stronger, more trustworthy, competent, and masculine.
Even when we’re talking about women, this is a quality that can make a huge difference when it comes to our perceptions.
2. Your Voice Has a Profound Effect on Your Public Speaking Success
Again, the message you communicate is very important, but in order to get people to actually listen to what you’re saying, you need to train your voice.
If you’ve ever seen any of the TED Talks, you probably noticed that featured speakers are nothing short of mesmerizing and captivating, while oozing confidence.
But, not all people have talkative, outgoing personalities and for many of us, the idea of public speaking sounds like nightmare material. Luckily, a shy disposition isn’t something that can’t be changed. Nor is any speech impediment. Remember that one of the most beloved British monarchs, King George VI, overcame his crippling stutter through speech therapy and went on to become an effective public speaker and a great leader.
However, you don’t need a Lionel Logue to nail your next public speech – there are useful apps that can help too.
LikeSo, for example, is marketed as “your personal speech coach,” that can help you polish not only your voice but also your verbal fitness. It will tell you whether you should speed your pace up or slow it down, as well as whether you’re using too many filler words. You can pick among different modes such as the Job Interview, Debate Practice, to name a few, and receive the analysis of your speech.
Speeko is an app built with the purpose of helping you train your voice for speaking. It comes with a number of features, such as interactive lessons, practices, and the analysis of your pace, eloquence, intonation, articulation, and other important speech factors.
Orai is another similar app that serves as a personal speech coach. besides regular features that help you analyze and improve your speech performance, it also provides instant video feedback and tips to sound confident while during your public speech. You can expect a customized approach to learning, as this software tailors lessons based on your skills, needs, and goals.
3. It Can Help You Communicate Your Message Better
Using upspeak and vocal fry can be detrimental to your career. Experts and surveys say that the former makes you seem indecisive and less confident, while the latter might render you less likely to be employed.
The tone of your voice plays an important role when it comes to all kinds of communication – certain things you say might have a different meaning depending on it.
The jury is still out on the “7-38-55” rule, by Albert Mehrabian, a professor of psychology at the UCLA. This usually misinterpreted rule refers to the percentages of the relative impact of words, tone of voice, and body language respectively on how the message is interpreted.
However, even if we bear in mind that there are some discrepancies and inaccuracies with this approach, it can’t be denied that tone of voice is essential for effective communication.
All this is particularly tricky in a business setting in which every statement has to be clear and properly delivered to prevent misunderstandings.
Even worse – what if your main channel of communication with your business associates and customers is via email, IMs, or chat? In that case, most prosodic features are lost, and the people you talk to won’t be sure whether you’re angry, offended, or friendly.
That’s why resorting to regular or video calls is the next best thing to face-to-face communication.
One of the biggest problems with customer support, for example, is that human agents might easily lose temper when talking to an unhappy customer. Similarly, they might have personal issues they bring to work and which can affect their performance.
Using AI-powered chatbots is one way out of this, as these smart algorithms are not only always polite and unannoyed but also available 24/7 and ready to tackle a number of customer queries simultaneously.
4. Want to Be Persuasive? Speak Quickly!
This is actually a trick that many salespeople use effectively when they want to close a deal.
What’s the catch?
Those you’re trying to persuade into doing or believing something don’t have enough time to assess how strong your arguments are, and voila! You’ve made your point, won a debate, or sold something.
But, you need to be careful about speeding up your tempo in job interviews. It’s a good idea to focus on what the interviewer is asking and deliver your answers by mirroring their speaking pace. In other words, if the person who’s interviewing you is soft-spoken, try to establish rapport by using a similar speaking volume and pace.
Also, if your interview is in the morning, your voice might sound sleepy. To wake it up, have a glass of water and try reciting song lyrics or reading your morning newspapers out loud.
5. Learn to Speak From Your Diaphragm
You’ve probably heard about different types of breathing – shallow, chest breathing and deeper, belly breathing.
The same goes for speaking. Communication coaches recognize different types of speaking voices:
- The nasal voice is high-pitched and not exactly desirable in terms of business success.
- The mouth voice isn’t powerful and won’t help you get noticed and heard.
- The chest voice is pleasant, but still, it’s not the one that will help you cut through the noise.
- The diaphragm voice is attractive, resonant, and strong. That’s the kind of voice that leaders from the beginning of this text use in order to seduce and sway their target audience.
However, you can’t simply decide to start speaking from your diaphragm. It’s a process that requires you to practice on a daily basis and focus on your breathing.
Taking up singing lessons or hiring a vocal coach can help you achieve this perfect pitch and use it for your own professional and personal benefit.
It’s evident that your voice is a make-it-or-break-it factor when it comes to commanding attention and succeeding at work. Don’t take it for granted, and make sure to nurture and exercise it, just like you do with your body.
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