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Volume 4, Issue 3

Avoid These Common Vocal Miscues

When preparing for a speech, leaders should focus not only on what they plan to say but also how they plan to say it, says a linguist.

Laura Sicola, a vocal coach, recently spoke with Fast Company about common mistakes leaders make in vocal communication and how to correct them, including:

  • Sounding disengaged from their message. "If you don't sound like you're interested in your own words, why would anyone else be interested?" she says. "When you deliver a message, you need to emphasize the most important words because that helps the listener to focus on those key words."
  • Not using vocal pauses. "A lot of times [if people have] a complicated concept or they have a lot that they want to say, they take a deep breath, and they just spew it all out," Sicola says. She notes that leaders should fill their speeches with pauses to give listeners time to process their message.
  • Using improper intonation. Leaders sometimes mistakenly use a vocal intonation called "upspeak"-when a voice rises at the end of a sentence as though he or she is asking a question. Sicola notes, "It sounds like I'm double checking everything. I'm a little insecure of what I'm saying."
  • Not listening to themselves. "Most people are unaware of how they actually sound," she says, noting that all leaders should record themselves to better understand their natural speaking patterns.

This article is from the July 21, 2014 issue.

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