New Manager Training Newsletter – Vocal Elements of Communication in Leadership

by ltconsulting on January 8, 2012

Our Leadership and Teambuilding training courses are designed to improve leadership skills and allow our delegates to be able to lead successful and high performing teams. Our team building workshops are packed full of useful teamwork training exercises, tips and techniques that new and experienced managers will find essential in showing how to lead effectively and will put them on the steady route of becoming successful managers and team leaders. Delegates who have taken our Leadership and Teambuilding courses have now gone on to lead highly productive teams and improving productivity by becoming better managers, motivators, delegators and leaders.

Leadership and team building is a training course that is both challenging and practical. We aim to teach the fundamental ‘people management skills‘ in a positive and constructive environment. It has been designed to enable delegates to understand the basic fundamentals of strategy and motivation in team building. You will benefit by learning tips and techniques that will increase your competence and confidence when managing, influencing and leading teams and individuals.

Sounding assertive

People respond to our vocal delivery or in other words how we come across. To understand how the voice conveys messages, recall a time when you have overheard a muffled conversation going on behind a closed door or on the other side of a wall. You almost certainly had a good idea of the type of feelings of the people concerned without seeing the visual behaviours. Also, as very young children we can pick up the feelings of our parents without even being able to understand the words. Most toddlers are only too aware that a parent is angry with them! A key part of assertiveness is the confidence we display when asking for what we want. We will always adjust our reactions if we assume the other person is confident or unsure in their demands. We can help ourselves greatly if we confident vocal tonality when we need to be assertive. There are four ways that your voice can convey messages:

  1. Loudness
  2. Rate
  3. Fluency
  4. Affect

Loudness

The volume of your voice says a great deal about your feelings at that moment. There are two ways in which loudness affects the impact of your communication. First, is the basic volume you use – the way you speak most of the time. You may, for instance, have the habit of talking so softly that others find it difficult to understand you. Whatever the reasons for such a quiet tone, the impression it often creates is one of timidity and uncertainty. On the other hand, you might talk so loudly that other listeners become uncomfortable around you. Excessive volume usually suggests aggression, anger or boorishness, even when you have no such feelings.

Unlike the people who always express themselves at an inappropriate volume, others may speak too loudly or too softly only at certain critical times. For instance, you might find that your normally pleasant voice turns into a shout when you are angry. Or you might almost lose your voice to just a whisper when you are upset. Needless to say, either of these extremes will usually diminish the effectiveness of your message.

Rate

Some speakers talk too rapidly and others too slowly. A speedy delivery often conveys a sense of nervousness or aggression, while a low, overly hesitant manner often appears to indicate uncertainty.

The average rate of speech is between 100 – 120 words per minute, thus providing a gauge against which you can measure your own speed.

Fluency

In addition to speaking at an appropriate rate and volume, another important factor is flow or fluency; the absence of unnecessary sounds or phrases such as “uhm” and “er”, “you know”, as well as other distracting vocal mannerisms such as repetitious words and long pauses. You might already be aware of using some of these in your speech. If not, try asking others who know you well whether you use any.

Affect

The affective ingredients of your voice include both tone and inflection. These elements are major tools for expressing your feelings. Think of the number of messages you could convey with a single sentence such as “I hope you will call me”, just by changing the tone. These simple words could communicate excitement, affection, sarcasm, anger or disinterest, depending on the variations in the pitch chosen by the speaker.

Practcal tips for sounding confident

There are several things you can do to produce a more confident vocal delivery. Some of these include:

  1. Practise your pitch and control by recording your voice and listen to the playback and critique yourself or ask a colleague to help. Review it for tone, rate of delivery etc.
  2. Learn some voice inflection exercises to help you avoid a monotone sound.
  3. Put a SMILE into your voice. It’s easy to do and your voice will sound friendlier.
  4. To become more confident in your voice, speak with fluency and without hesitation. Confident people also intonate their voices and put emphasis on words or parts of words.
  5. Low pitched voices carry more authority but can sound boring, monotone and dismissive unless the speaker varies their tone and intonation.
  6. High pitched voices sound positive and action orientated but also need a variation in pitch and pace otherwise they sound hysterical.

Exercise

Managing your verbal communications. You are a sales team manager and need to speak to one of your team about her performance at work.

“Hi Michele. Sorry to have to bring this up again but I’m a bit worried about your sales results. It’s not a big thing and I know you like spending more time chatting with customers on sales calls because you find that the consultative approach to selling more enjoyable. It’s just that the numbers are starting to slip slightly and I’m a little worried. I think you should be a bit quicker with your calls. I know you’ll do your best”.

In response she agrees that she should make more calls but is over target and is happy with her current performance. You reply:

“Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re doing a great job and I don’t want you to think I’m having a go at you. It’s just that I’d prefer it if you made a bit more effort. Anyway as I said it’s no big thing”

Rewrite the transcript removing any verbal qualifiers.

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