“Uh”, “hurs”, “right”, “yea” or other verbal ticks can be really bothersome. Here’s a simple way to see if you have them or not. Next time you’re chatting to friends, casually place your cupped hands over your ears. Keep talking naturally and you’ll soon see if you use them more than you should.
The trick is to train yourself to pause instead, or take a breath. Try and learn to live with the odd second or two of silence.
Breathe Like a Singer
This will allow you to use your voice to maximum effect with little extra effort. Most people breathe from the chest and you can see this by watching someone’s shoulders go up and down as they breathe. Now singers breathe from the diaphragm which is pretty much just behind your tummy and this gives you much more air from the same amount of effort.
You probably normally breathe from your chest (noticeable by your rib cage moving up and down), but you can also breathe from your diaphragm (evident by your stomach moving in and out). Put your hand on your stomach and breathe deeply so that your hand moves in and out.
This is abdominal breathing and it allows you to access the lower/richer end of your voice range. If you use abdominal breathing while speaking, you can also take in more air and thus talk for longer without pausing (useful for presentations).
Try it. See if you can breathe from your diaphragm – it’ll make it much easier to talk.
Are You a Speedy Gonzalez?
Everyone in this world speaks at a different speed. Some people can speak mega quick and seem to understand other fast talkers as well. But unfortunately most of us can’t keep up with the Speedy Gonzalez’s and struggle to understand. Speaking at about 2½ to 3½ words a second is about right.
Test your speed by saying:
“Are you copper bottoming ’em my man
No I’m aluminiuming ’em ma’am”
It should take just under 5 seconds to read it without stumbling over the big word at the end. Any faster and you need to slow down when on the phone.
And if you took too long, I think my aluminiuming got the better of you.
Stretch your Vocal Range
How big is yours?
I mean your vocal range. Can you move your voice from low to high with little difficulty? If you can it makes your voice more interesting to listen to, easier to match your customer’s voice and it can make the job more fun.
Why all the fuss? If you have a narrow vocal range, in other words, you sound monotonous, then your customers will soon delete your voice. Sounds painful but people can only concentrate on about 7 things hitting their senses before they delete you out.
It’s like sitting on the fast train and having that da dum, da dum or watching a clock tick. Before you know it you’re asleep.
Slightly over the top but my point is made.
Here’s a couple of things you can do to exercise your vocal range to expand it.
- Read out loud children’s books but not so easy if you don’t have children.
- Another idea is to count from one to ten going from low pitch to high and then back down again. You can do this out loud only I’m afraid so make sure you have your friends with you.
Did you know that in a phone conversation, your attitude is conveyed within your voice almost 30 times more than when you’re face to face with someone.
Water Your Vocal Chords
My wife always likes to have hanging baskets up in the summer and religiously waters them every evening. Without the water they would son dry up. Your voice is the same in a way and needs water to lubricate the vocal chords. It needs to stay fairly damp and warm down there, so I’ve been told and warm water will do this. At least room temperature not machine freezing as this will make it worse.
Real voice pros will avoid phlegm monsters such as cheese, oily and fatty foods and mayo. Whilst we’re on the subject avoid caffeine, chocolate or air conditioning.
Problem is when you’re on the phone all day making calls you tend to graze. And modern offices have vending machines and all sorts of foods available all the time.
So there we have 5 secrets to vocal quality on the telephone. Take a few ideas away to ensure you are one of those people that just sound great on the phone.