How to Sound Like You Mean Business

There comes a time in life when we need to be taken seriously,  command attention or take a stand for something. With these three steps, you can learn how to speak with power and authority, no matter how you’re actually feeling on the inside.

There comes a time in life when we need to throw our weight around. To be taken seriously. To command attention. Not to intimidate or manipulate others (I hope) but to take a powerful stand for something we believe in.

With my three-step VoiceShaping technique, you can learn to control your tone of voice so only the emotions you want come through. These techniques will help you speak out and be heard, and express yourself with power and authority–even if you feel like a marshmallow inside.

Actors, orators and politicians have been using these techniques for centuries. Now you can learn them too. Here’s the basic idea: You can’t communicate effectively without emotion. To express yourself fully and congruently you merely need to access the proper emotional state. You do this by giving yourself cues, which are auditory (heard), kinesthetic (felt), and visual (seen). Here’s how:

Every tone of voice has a corresponding:

1. Key word- auditory cue

2. Mental image- visual cue

3. Body language- kinesthetic cue

KEY WORD: Your auditory cue. Using a single word, name the over-riding “feeling” you’d like to convey in your presentation. For an authoritative tone of voice choose a dynamic active word such as: “power,” “strong,” “win,” “go,” or “yes”(my favorite). Say this word aloud over and over with gusto!

MENTAL IMAGE: Your visual cue. As you say your authoritative key word out loud, a movie will begin to form in your mind. Keep saying your key word over and over, making the image clear and bright. For an authoritative tone of voice, some people see themselves as a coach, an executive or a military officer. Find the image that works for you. But notice all the cinematic details, the colors, the set design, the supporting players.

BODY LANGUAGE: Your kinesthetic cue. The fastest way to change the sound of your voice is to change your physiology. Make your body language BIG. To sound more authoritative, stand up! Erect posture. Strong hand gestures. Firm gaze, even when you are on the phone. In fact, when speaking on the phone, don’t let your eyes wander. If you are alone in the room, fix your gaze on the eyes of a person in a photograph or magazine. This technique may sound a little strange, but it really works!


From “The Voice Coach” ezine by Susan Berkley. Copyright 2002, reprinted with permission. For a free subscription visit  Susan Berkley is a professional speaker and international communications expert. She is a top voiceover artist and author of “Speak to Influence: How to Unlock the Hidden Power of Your Voice, ” available at bookstores or from The Great Voice Company at 800-333-8108.

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