I recently had several phone conversations with high-powered leaders - all of whom sounded like high-powered leaders. It wasn't just what they said (not a word wasted), but also how they said it. Not a frog in their collective throats. Rather than hemming and hawing, umming and erring, each of these leaders, from diverse industries and disciplines, spoke in a strong, confident voice.
If you're an introvert, despite the advantages of quietly contemplating your thoughts before sharing them, you are missing opportunities to get heard if you don't speak in your best voice. Three prominent introverts I interviewed for my book, Self-Promotion for Introverts® - Warren Buffett, Ken Frazier, president and CEO of Merck, and Michele Wucker, president of the World Policy Institute - all pace themselves when they speak, "punch" important words for emphasis, and vary the tone of their voices to keep their audiences' attention.
"Introverts have a tendency to speak more slowly and quietly," shared Katharine Myers, coguardian and trustee of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® Trust, in my book. She added, "As a result, we can feel that we've said something and no one has heard it or acknowledged it. It can make us feel invisible."
Since invisibility isn't an option, especially if you're an aspiring or current leader, it pays to invest in your voice. Unless your voice already enhances rather than detracts from what you say, improve your vocal delivery by taking classes or private lessons. If you have a more serious challenge, like a stutter or a lisp, then consult with a speech pathologist.
You can spend your life learning to improve your voice. Of course, you don't have to have a voice like James Earl Jones to sound like a self-assured leader and an expert at what you do. The following tips will help you tune up your voice to polish your presence.
Modulate your voice.If you tend to get nervous at certain meetings or when giving a presentation, one of the telltales signs is speaking in a monotone. Counter that by making an effort to vary the tone and pace of your delivery.
For more tips to help you present yourself with confidence, see my story, "How to Find Your Inner Cary Grant."
Excerpt adapted from Nancy Ancowitz, Self-Promotion for Introverts®: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead, McGraw-Hill, 2009, pp. 165-166.
© Copyright 2011 Nancy Ancowitz