Not everyone’s a public speaking virtuoso, but that doesn’t mean it’s an area to be ignored.
In fact, a 2014 study published in PLOS ONE shows how vocal fry — or squeaks and cracks in your speech — can be perceived negatively and hurt your chances of getting a job. The study found young adult females with vocal fry are perceived as less competent, less educated, less trustworthy, less attractive, and therefore less hirable. While the negative perceptions of vocal fry are stronger for females than for males, males are still susceptible to undesired voice cracking.
If you want a fighting chance at landing the job, you’d better start exercising those vocal cords.
“You have the capacity to shape your voice in a way that makes people perceive you as a leader,” UCLA acoustic scientist Rosario Signorello was reported saying in a Wall Street Journal article.
Here are a few tips to help you train yourself to speak like a leader, so you can be prepared to ace your interview:
Save your impressions for your improv group. Interviewers don’t want to hear you imitate Christopher Walken or President Obama. They want to get to know the real you, whom they’ll ideally be working closely with each day. Whether public speaking or speaking one-on-one, take pride in your voice and work with what you have.
The PLOS ONE study found men and women with lower pitched voices are usually perceived as stronger and more dominant. Instead of trying to hit those high notes, try allowing your voice to execute its natural low tones. Don’t be like Batman, though. Practice and exercise the naturally low-sounding aspects of your tone.
Voice conveys information about social status and power. In fact researchers believe tiny changes in the biomechanical interplay of the throat, tongue, vocal folds and larynx, caused by distress or injury, for example, can alter the voice in subtle ways that change how people respond, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Our voice transfers our essence to others,” speech physiologist Bruce Gerrattat UCLA’s Voice Perception Laboratory was reported saying in the article.
To speak like a leader, your speech should transfer an essence of self-assurance. Give others the confidence you know what you are talking about and they can trust you. You can accomplish this in an interview by conducting company and industry research beforehand, so you’re well-versed on the topics that will be discussed.
These are some of the best steps you can take for rapid improvement. Practice vocal exercises for public speaking and interviews regularly to train your vocal cords away from any squeaks. Take a video of yourself answering interview questions, and then — the painful part — watch.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, but do take notes about what you’d like to improve next time. Self-awareness is key. You can’t fix what you don’t know.
Achieving vocal perfection isn’t the easiest — it’s likely something you’ll have to work at if you aren’t naturally gifted with a set of cords perfect for voiceovers. Keep working at it and public speaking will gradually come easier. You’ll notice speaking to anyone will be easier so you can present yourself as a confident professional during an interview.
What are some other public speaking exercises you can use to train yourself to speak like a leader?