You can confidently and persuasively captivate your partner- or client’s attention, in person or by phone, with these seven tips. It’s simple! Maximize the impact of your vocal variety and vocal energy.

* Project your voice like a firm handshake. There’s nothing worse than not being able to hear someone in a conversation, and most people are afraid of the sound of their voices. If this includes you, practice reading aloud 10 minutes a day to get used to the sound of your voice. You should be able project your voice easily enough to fill a room at least 15 feet across for an extended period of time.

* Speak in a voice of authority. This is especially important for women. Speak in your lower-middle range, even when adding volume. If you don’t know where this “power” voice lies, practice saying the word “right” like “I got it.” Then match that voice when reading aloud. Also, lower the pitch of your voice at the ends of questions or statements to avoid the sing-songy speaking pattern of a Valley Girl. Start your pitch high and end low for authority. Try it!

* Pause. Pause before important facts or statistics, before you quote someone or before you give a price. This helps others to hear what you’re saying, rather than having something important fly by unnoticed. It also helps your listener when you pause after a series, or anything with commas. “We have technology stocks, energy stocks and consumer stocks” should be spoken, “We have technology stocks// energy stocks// and consumer stocks.”/// Make sure you pause at the end of a sentence before beginning the next one. Rushing into the next sentence diminishes the importance of what you’re saying.

* Pace yourself. People will doubt your honesty if you speedtalk. The most highly paid speakers in the United States speak between 140 and 170 words per minute. If you happen to live on the east coast (where almost no one speaks within this range), and you give a presentation in Atlanta or Texas, your audience will think you’re a fast-talking, slick New Yorker trying to pull one over on them. This will undermine your credibility and your audience’s ability to trust you.

Avoid rapid fire questions because they cause confusion, anxiety and ambiguity. Again, the solution is to practice reading aloud—with the stop watch on your smart phone—counting the number of words you’ve read during one minute. You’ll find that as you get down to reading 140-170 words per minute, your words will sound more meaningful.

* Speak with vocal variety. If you speak in a monotone, you’ll sound like one of the Coneheads. Instead, try to vary your highs and lows to maintain interest. If you speak in a monotone, practice singing—there’s nothing like a singing exercise to strengthen and to make you fall in love with the highs and lows of your voice.

* Avoid “um,” “like” and “you know.” These vocal fillers are deadly. They creep into your conversation when you speak faster than you can think. To solve this problem, have someone put pennies in a pile every time you use one of these fillers. When you see a penny, stop, and, in silence, rephrase what you were going to say and start over. Often, just slowing down a little bit can alleviate this problem. Practice this for one conversation a day for six weeks.

* Use simple, 50-cent words—not $1.50 ones. The financial, technology and diplomatic communities too frequently use acronyms and jargon to impress one another, so they leave out a huge portion of their audience — their customers. Always know your audience and adjust your vocabulary accordingly. Few people will raise their hands to say they’re confused—so tailor your discussion to your listeners.

Think of great communicators like Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton. Whether speaking to heads of state or to the nation on TV, they consistently used simple language, including everyone in their conversation.

Ginny Pulos is president of Ginny Pulos Communications, Inc., a speech and media consultancy, and adjunct professor at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. She is an expert in presentation, storytelling and persuasion in corporate environments.r (www.ginnypulos.com). 

For more tips on speaking with confidence check our other blog posts. We welcome you to subscribe to our posts and the Ginny Pulos Communications Facebook page.

1. Go to events with a host behavior. That is, show people where to hang their coats, invite them to have a drink, offer to bring them some h’ors d’oeuvres, or to introduce them to someone.

2. Stand near the food or drink tables. Absolutely everyone eventually makes a bee-line there. You’ll meet positively everyone.

3. Have something to eat before attending the event. That way your hands will be free to reach into your pocket for a clean, loose business card at the appropriate time.

3. Look for the person standing alone, clutching a drink so hard, his or her knuckles have turned white. Start a conversation with that person and you may just find the shy CEO of a company you’d love to do business with.

4. Prepare. Speak 90% of the time about interesting topics other than work and only 10% about business. People do business with people they like and have rapport with. Be a friend first.

5. When you need to move on, remember the +-+ technique. Say something great about your meeting or your conversation with the person, tell them the minus (you promised yourself you’d meet 20 new people at this event, etc.), then tell them another plus (I’d love to continue our conversation over lunch, possibly next week?) and you’ll move on with polish and class.

Here are some great tips for remembering names. It’s acronym is N-A-M-E.

1.N stands for NAME GRABBER. Say the name aloud. “Nice to meet you, Ginny.” Say it to yourself. If you aren’t sure of the name, ask for clarification.

2. A stands for ASSOCIATE. Take 5-10 seconds to associate the name for Ginny. Picture your Aunt Ginny from Geneva. Picture a bottle of gin. Or the line from “My Fair Lady”. “Gin was mother’s milk to me.” The association can be silly, outrageous, insulting — but it must be memorable.

3. M and E stand for MEMORY and ENTER. See the bottle of gin and Ginny’s face. Enter it into your mental computer.

4. E also stands for EXERCISE. Practice using this technique once a day and you’ll be skillful in no time.

To sum up your preparation before attending an event:

1. Focus on the benefits of the event
2. Do your homework. Set an agenda for yourself.
3. Remove your own roadblocks to conversation. Know how to stimulate conversation.
4. Practice a self introduction.
5. Establish the mindset to have a great time.

Ginny Pulos is president of Ginny Pulos Communications, Inc., a speech and media consultancy, and adjunct professor at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. She is an expert in presentation, storytelling and persuasion in corporate environments.r (www.ginnypulos.com). 

For more tips on speaking with confidence check our other blog posts. We welcome you to subscribe to our posts and the Ginny Pulos Communications Facebook page.

What Our Clients Say

Ginny was excellent and creative. The timing of this seminar on nonverbal behavior was perfect for our upcoming cycle of meetings.