In one of the conferences I animate, I speak of the roles of a strategic leader. Based on rules of cognition which show that “understanding follows experience”, the roles are Stalker of information, Dreamer of possibilities, Seer of opportunities, Leader in action and Persuasive communicator.

I explain how those 5 roles each relate to a brain function and I use “totem animals” as a didactic device to impress audiences with how and why each of the roles is critically important. The world is changing at the speed of thought and we can no longer rely on memory and schoolbook formulae: We need to be creative thinkers.

I explain the role of the persuasive communicator by using film clips of the “Resplendent Quetzal” –a bird of the Trojon species. A native of the cloud forests of Central America, it has a distinctive call and a very strident cry of alarm. There is no mistaking it’s intent, when it communicates a danger signal.

Depending on my animation, I’ll tell an audience the voice is a tool and that it can be used to make the difference between persuading someone to act in you favour, or not.

In the book “Put Your Best Foot Forward”, authors J-E. Dimitirus and M. Mazzarella devote a whole chapter to voice. Speaking with someone on the phone for the first time, they write, we don’t have the luxury of visual cues for feedback so it’s even more important to make a good impression with our voice.

Recent studies show that people dislike irritating, harsh, loud, fast, singsong or quiet, boring speakers. People are persuaded to act by a deep, energetic voice, that is charged with sincere, positive emotion, with a clear, moderately paced speech, and with good grammar.

As with a car radio, if the signal is static-filled, negative or unclear, people unconsciously and instantly change the station. If a signal is crisp, clear and interesting, we consciously listen no matter what’s on… and we’ll even act on what we’ve listed to. Advertisers, marketers and sellers everywhere are counting on it.

Here are 4 quick tips to empower your voice:

  1. Develop a tonal quality that persuades people by synthesizing what you want to say to others and then sending out that message with clear signals and a positive vibe. DO NOT MIX YOUR MESSAGES.

  2. The voice is like a musical instrument and practice makes perfect. Try different voices, pitches, ranges, tones, speeds, etcetera. Reading out loud will help you acquire confidence, as will debating, speechmaking and radio work. Sing aloud when alone driving or in the shower. Not only is it fun but it’ll develop your voice.

  3. Learn to control your emotional charge (positive or negative), volume (loud or soft), pace (fast or slow), tone (harsh or melodious), pitch (high or low) and accent (clear or mumbled) by thinking about it and consciously adjusting. I once counselled a woman who spoke very quickly all the time to buy a musician’s metronome, set it at a moderate tempo and not talk any faster than its beat. (It changed her life.)

  4. Your goal should be an empowered voice that shows controlled emotion, openness and detached concern, and can call for action. A slower pitch allows you to moderate the pace of your speech by focusing your awareness on it. Acquire a standard, general or pleasing accent and half the battle is won.

  5. Learn to construct Win-Win-Win scenarios. Recognize that people will act on your behalf as “altruistic self-interest - so shape your persuasive synthesis in terms where they recognize the advantage in helping you.

Again, this means a conscious effort but the return on the investment is that you – like the Resplendent Quetzal - develop a communication strategy that persuades others to act on your behalf.