Professional Presence: Finding Your Voice

professional-presence

Picture yourself in this everyday office scenario:

The staff is gathered for a presentation on a new company initiative.

The presenter passes out their information, and in a monotone fashion proceeds to plod through the slideshow presentation on the topic with seemingly little enthusiasm.

At the end they announce, “We really want everyone to get excited about this.”

Are you excited?

Have you bought into your company’s new project?

Given the lackluster presentation, probably not!

 

Maybe this presenter really is excited about the initiative, but they don’t know how to convey that to others… or don’t even realize how their demeanor is being perceived by everyone in the room.

And what would the ramifications be if this had been a pitch to a client, or prospective investors?

The non-verbal communication in this situation was the difference between increased morale at the launching of a new project, and just another boring meeting!

 

The 7 Percent “Rule”

You may be familiar with a “rule” that states communication is only 7% verbal, the other 93% being vocal tones (38%) and facial expression (55%). While the studies from the late 1960s that originated this “rule” have been widely misinterpreted – and the results really only apply to the circumstances of the study – it was still a benchmark in recognizing how we interpret messages based on our physical sound and presence… and other studies still reinforce how nonverbal communication influences how we perceive messages from others.

 

Take for example, a later study indicating that the combination of many non-verbal cues had over 4 times the effect of simply verbal cues. And a study out of Harvard University published in 2003 showed how tone of voice increased or decreased subjects’ perception of politeness in statements and questions.

 

Even so, science may not always be able to pin down a statistic about our use of nonverbal cues… but the evidence exists in those won or lost clients, daily engagement with customers and co-workers, and surveys of employee satisfaction.

 

It’s What You Say, AND How You Say It

We know the words we choose are important… no one wants irrelevant, illogical information or interactions. But it’s not just our words – strictly the information – that influences others, and determines their perception of us. Even when our words are in the right, is that enough to convey our meaning? In the example above, the speaker’s overall tone hindered the message of company enthusiasm. No doubt you’ve experienced either embracing or rejecting projects, ideas, or initiatives because of the way the message was delivered to you.

 

1

Dr. Ann Utterback, a vocal coach exclusive to broadcasters, says that the world is looking for “comfortable communicators”: presenters who make you feel like you’re the only one with whom they’re interacting. In an interview with Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute, she describes one aspect of this as ‘vocal energy’ – “focus and passion for what you’re saying.”

 

So just knowing how to run the slide software isn’t enough… the balance of what you’re thinking, feeling, and projecting creates the dynamism to win and keep customers, influence investors, and excite and engage those around your on your team.

 

2

Ultimately, your vocal presence can either enhance or break down your meaning.

And this presence is made up of many components… some you may feel comfortable with, and others that may need work in order to really find your voice, and allow others to hear your true meaning.

My corporate professional presence training breaks down these components:

Vocal quality

Vocal variance

Rate of speech

Accent clarity

Body posture and gestures

 

And you may be surprised how factors outside of your physical voice can be used to great effect in magnifying your “voice” and message:

Crafting a powerful story

Knowing when to speak, and when to listen

Adjusting responses to questions for different audiences

 

We’ll be exploring these components of your professional vocal presence in the weeks to come!

 

My corporate professional presence training engages the issues of vocal presence to increase productivity, create stronger client relationships, and improve clarity of internal and external presentations and processes.

Learn more and contact us today at AccentuateCommunication.com.

 

Prepositions of Place: “In” “On” & “At”

Last week we discussed how the small connecting words of the English language are just as important as mastering a larger vocabulary… but the correct usage of these tiny words can sometimes fall through the cracks for non-native English speakers. You may start to use words like “in,” “on,” and “at” interchangeably, when they actually each have a specific purpose. Incorrect usage of these prepositions can cause native English speakers to question your fluency, or become confused by your meaning.

 

when do you say (place)

 

Last week, we looked at how to use “in,” “on,” and “at” when describing time… This week, we’ll follow the same principle when using them to describe locations.

 

If you can remember this order, “IN, ON, AT”… then you can remember this general rule for how to describe places:

 

gen rule place

 

See again how “IN, ON, AT” progress from general to specific locations as you read their descriptions:

 

Prepositions of Place

 

I have some more sample sentences for you again this week. Take a look and choose the correct prepositions for each location.

 

Fill In Place

 

This video I created a few years ago further explains the usage of “IN, ON, AT” with regard to location beyond what I’ve detailed here. Check it out and then look below to see if you got the sample sentences correct!

 

 

Answers Place

If this video and information helped you, or if you’d like more information on accent reduction, take my free accent screening and receive a free pronunciation guide at losemyaccent.com.

Do you have a HOT dog or a hot DOG? Word Stress is a key to your American Accent

It’s National Hot Dog Day, and I’m celebrating with you by giving you this video training! Using correct word stress is an important part of mastering the American accent. This video explains what happens if you use the wrong word stress when talking about the all-American hot dog!

 

The Rain in Spain: How Eliza mastered the English Pronunciation of the Long A Sound

Don’t you wish there were a magic button you could push to improve your English pronunciation? Wouldn’t it be great to wake up one morning and, all of a sudden, you could say all those difficult sounds?

Of course, there is no magic button, but sometimes your hard work and persistence seems to suddenly pay off, when a sound that has eluded you for a long time unexpectedly comes out perfectly.

In the popular play and movie My Fair Lady, young Eliza Doolittle finally masters the “proper” English pronunciation of the long A sound, after lots of hard work and practice. Just at the point when her tutor is about to give up on her, she gets it.

Her purpose in working so hard on her English was to be seen as a “lady” instead of just a flower girl on the streets. She was motivated by a desire to improve herself and gain more opportunities in life. What motivates you to improve your English pronunciation? The chance for a better job? The freedom to be understood every time you speak to friends? The desire to feel confident that you CAN speak clearly and be understood?

Watch the video clip and practice the long A sound along with Eliza. You can say it: “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”

Even if it seems hard at first, one of these days you will wake up and, as if by magic, you too will have mastered the correct English pronunciation of the long A sound.