When it comes to the speaking voice, tone deals with the expression of a mood or emotion. In relationship to your delivery, your tone can have a surprising influence on how your topic or subject is perceived. If you were to give a motivational speech, your tone would be different than were you to speak to a master’s level course on horticulture.
While tone is somewhat dependent upon the color in your speech, in your facial expression and in your body language, your mood or emotional state can convey a different message from what you are actually trying to say.
I worked with a woman who, in answering her phone, always sounded distant. In truth, the tone in her voice made her sound uninterested. While there is no doubt that she was bored with her current position, her tone in speaking to others, be it to her colleagues or to perspective clients, gave her listeners the feeling that she was a cold individual. Nothing could have been further from the truth. This woman was very warm and very nice; however, her tone of voice never said that.
When I was teaching the graduate students at the University of Western Ontario, it was fascinating to listen to these very talented young people in their delivery of the news. Many of them reported the story of a murder with the same tone of voice that they used to announce the Stanley Cup winners or to talk about a young boy’s heroic saving of horses from a burning barn. Each of these stories requires a different tone of voice.
In addition, your facial expression may also change according to your tone. Your brow may furrow in discussing the murder; your face may show joy in describing the last minute goal of the Stanley Cup winners; and your facial features may soften in talking about the heroism of the 9-year-old boy.
Without color, your delivery, be it at the podium or just in conversation, will be boring. Setting the wrong tone, however, can be just as devastating as a delivery lacking in emotion, life, or expression. Were I to tell my dog that she is bad but use an inviting tone of voice, she will think that I am pleased with her. Likewise, were I to speak to her in an angry tone, but tell her that she is a good dog, she will think I am upset with her.
In working on expressive delivery skills with my clients, I teach them to paint a picture with their voice. For anyone listening to audio books, this is a standard technique the reader will use to add interest, allowing the listener to ‘see’ what the reader is saying. Take that advice one step further and become aware of your tone as well.
Is the tone of your voice inviting or does it tell others that you are not interested? If you are describing a wonderful adventure, is your tone conveying your excitement or do you sound bored?
Next time you are planning to give a presentation, a toast, a eulogy, an acceptance speech or whether you are just introducing another speaker, record yourself and listen to the tone of your voice. Does it match what you are trying to say or is it telling a different story?
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. Visit Voice Dynamic and discover the best means of adding some life to your voice and your delivery.