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Make Your Voice Count in a Group Meeting or Workshop

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When you speak, whether you are the facilitator or a contributor in a collaborative conversation, you need to make sure your voice is heard by the other participants. The study referenced earlier regarding verbal, vocal, and visual components of communication identified that how you say something (vocal) is over 5 times as important as what you say (verbal).

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So, what are the attributes of the sound of your voice that you control to make a difference?

There are several attributes you can practice varying while you speak to emphasize critical points, express the difference between a question and a statement, and keep you voice interesting for the listener. We all love listening to an adept speaker.

You Can Control Your Vocal Quality (aka Resonance or Timbre)

For starters, you have control over your vocal quality (aka resonance or timbre). Everyone’s natural voice is somewhere in the range of high to low and we all naturally vary our resonance. That said, we would like to refute the claim that people believe a deep voice more than a high voice. We can point to studies that “prove” either side of that argument, so we will not go further into it.

Learn How to Vary Your Voice’s Frequency

What is important is that you learn how to vary your voice’s frequency from lower to higher naturally when speaking. Speaking in a monotone is soothing, so if your goal is to put the others to sleep, go for it. Otherwise, let your nonconscious mind naturally take charge of emphasizing points that are important to you.

Control the Pace of Your Voice

The second aspect of your voice that you can control is pace. Whether you speak quickly or slowly depends on your personality. However, when you are trying to get a point across to another person, you should try to adapt your speed to their speed. They will tend to listen and comprehend better if you do. If you are speaking to a group, strive for a neutral pace, neither too fast nor too slow, to hit the sweet spot.

Public speakers typically speak at a rate of approximately 130 – 160 words per minute. If you are giving a speech, use a word count such as word processing apps offer and a timer to calculate your natural speed. If you speak slower that 130 wpm or faster than 160, you may lose your audience.

Get In-depth Communication Skills Training

The best recommendation we can make for learning how to leverage your voice in meetings is to join a group like Toastmasters. You can also choose from a myriad of online support groups that will help you make more of your natural talents as a speaker. The impact it will have on your contributions in collaborative conversations can be dramatic.

In particular, if you are leading a workshop, you should learn how to project your voice without shouting. Projecting is a skill taught acting students so they can be heard in a large theatre. It also comes in handy in trying to lead a group of participants during a contentious topic.

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Written for the aspiring Business Analyst and anyone tasked with defining the business needs, requirements, or user stories for a future IT solution.

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