Your Voice: an Instrument to Business Success

Ellen Dunnigan asked:

Your Voice: An Instrument to Business Success

As an entrepreneur or an employee, your average day is filled with interactions with others. Depending on your role and the particular day, you might find yourself involved in telephone calls, a formal speech, a training session, media interactions, numerous dialogues with colleagues and customers, and even networking

While some of these interactions may vary in terms of formality and the amount of preparation required on your part, the common denominator is that they each represent an opportunity to make an impression and have an impact on others. The impressions we make are all too often long-lasting ones, and as the saying goes, we don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Having said that, this seems like an opportune time to reflect for a few moments on your events of the past week. As you either thumb through your daily planner or scan through your PDA, review the contacts you’ve made and then consider if any of the following issues have come up:

You were asked to speak up.

You needed to repeat yourself.

Your message was misunderstood

You received incorrect information in response to something you “thought” you said.

Your message was perceived in a way other than how it was intended.

You couldn’t get the full attention of your audience.

You didn’t get the results or reactions you had anticipated.

You didn’t make the sale or close the transaction

You walked away thinking the customer just wasn’t too sure about you.

It took several attempts to get your team to understand the goals you had set.

These phenomena are actually quite common in the course of the typical business day, but ironically most people describe themselves as having effective communication. If however, one stops to ponder the cause and effect behind these types of concerns, it becomes apparent that there is room for change. When it comes down to improving how one communicates, take a look at specific behaviors and the skills that are required to create change. If we use this tactic with the list stated above it would end up looking like this:

speaking with too rapid a rate of speech

Speaking with too low of a volume level

Slurring your words, or mumbling

Not sounding confident and authoritative

Speaking without organizing your thoughts

Lacking eye contact or other non-verbal body language to support your message

Failing to build rapport

Speaking too much and listening too little


As you look even more closely at these damaging speech behaviors and the results (or lack of results) they produce, the impact on your success as a business professional is actually quite staggering. If you take this same situation and apply it across your company and other employees, the implications are profound.

Since we’re evaluating the impact of the voice on your success in business, it would be an oversight to not consider the importance of also maintaining a healthy voice. It’s quite easy to forget that our voice is a muscle that often gets a rigorous workout as we perform our jobs. But remember that your voice has to last a lifetime and therefore warrants appropriate care and maintenance. Here are some classic voice care tips:

Avoid excessive throat clearing

Sip water frequently throughout the day to ensure sufficient hydration

Whenever possible, breathe through the nose rather the mouth

Use a humidifier during winter months to combat the effect of heat drying out the voice

Get adequate sleep and rise 2-3 hours before voice use is required

Discontinue smoking and avoid exposure to smoke-filled environments (second hand smoke)

Avoid speaking over noise (e.g. planes, loud equipment, and loud parties)

Avoid straining the voice at recreational events (e.g. concerts, sporting events)

If you get laryngitis or a sore throat, avoid whispering as this causes excess strain

Be aware of tension points in the body and avoid speaking through clenched teeth

Are you using your voice as an instrument to business success? Seek professional coaching from a qualified voice and speech coach to fine tune one of your busiest instruments, your voice.

Accent On Business founder and CEO Ellen Dunnigan is a nationally-recognized and proven coach with specialized training in voice, speech, and English improvement. She holds a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and has been certified as clinically competent by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.

In addition, she has spent several years in corporate settings as an operations leader and strategist. Ms. Dunnigan has devoted her entire career to helping people improve their personal and professional voice and speaking skills.

For more Information about Accent on Business and what we can offer you please visit or contact us by phone at (317) 218-5111.


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