From social media to texting to not having enough time, communication is getting more difficult and complicated. If we want to influence our listeners to make them act on what we have to say, we need to work hard to be heard above this noise.
1. Speaking up.
If you want to be heard, you need to speak up. It will be difficult to influence others to take action when they can’t hear you. In all of my years working with thousands of individuals, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to ask someone to turn down their volume level. Most individuals I work with believe they speak louder than they really do until they hear their voice on a video playback.
On a scale of one to ten, with one being inaudible and ten too loud, your voice needs to be at a seven or eight when speaking to a group of 15 or more. When speaking over the phone or to a small group, project at a four to five level.
Vocal projection has nothing to do with yelling. It’s the realization you need to use different volume levels so your voice reaches everyone in the room. No one should have to strain to hear you. If they do, they’ll stop listening and you will lose them.
If you have a softer volume, there’s a good chance you are also monotone. Monotone invites your listeners to do anything but listen to you. When you increase your volume based on the volume scale with the size of your audience, you will immediately increase your inflection. Think about the impact of how you can use inflection. For example, listen to what is important to your customer and pepper their words throughout your message. When you speak their words, add inflection. How can this method not be impactful and memorable?
Ask for feedback on the volume level you project in meetings, face-to-face situations and over the phone. This week, audiotape yourself during a presentation, meeting, or virtual or face-to-face conversation. Give yourself immediate feedback:
- Would you be influenced by this person?
- Do you sound like you really mean what you’re saying, or do you invite your listeners to check their email?
- Does your voice trail off at the end of your sentences?
2. Get to the point.
Time is valuable to all of us, so why do we steal our customer’s time by taking too long to get to the point? The more you say that is unnecessary, the greater the risk your customer will miss or misinterpret your point. Instead of inviting your customers to check out:
- Stay focused. When you find yourself going down the path of saying too much and you begin to feel like a train about to derail, put the brakes on and get yourself back on track . . . PAUSE!
- Keep your objective in mind. Think in terms of what your customer needs to know about what you want them to do, not what you want to tell them.
- Put thought to your words before you speak.
- Use the Rule of Three. Focus your message on no more than the three most significant points. It is easier for you to get to the point and for your customers to remember your message and act on what you have to say.
- Pay attention to your customer. Are they hanging on your every word or are they dazed? Are they attentive or fidgeting? If the latter, this does not mean you should talk faster and louder. When your customer is communicating that they are done, conclude your conversation with a call to action and the benefits your customer receives.
3. Take action on your development.
- This week, prior to your meetings ask a trusted peer to give you a non-verbal signal when you are rambling and taking too long to get to the point.
- Audiotape a conversation. Immediately following this conversation, listen to your audio playback. Listen to your volume; is it appropriate for the size of your group? Did you use pauses? If so, were your pauses too long, too short or just right to keep your listener engaged? Pay attention to your inflection. Did you emphasize words that resonate with your listener or did your message come across scripted?
- Additional feedback to provide for yourself:
- Is your message articulate, succinct and easy to follow?
- Do your points meet your listener’s expectations?
- Does your message stay on point or are you communicating too many ideas in a short period of time?
4. Give your conversation momentum.
Close by recapping the specific action you want your listener to take and what’s in it for them. When your listener is clear on what you are asking them to do, you will continue to move the relationship forward. Because we remember the first and last thing we hear, it is critical that your message is organized.
Your listener receives many messages throughout their day. Stating a specific action that has benefits for your listener is what will help you be heard above the noise.
Every single one of us has the right to speak, you need to earn the right to be heard.