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Don’t Be a Drone: Use Vocal Variety

By December 6, 2017Uncategorized

In the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, actor Ben Stein memorably played an economics teacher who famously uttered the words that have become a catchphrase: “Bueller? Bueller?” Stein spoke in such a monotone that his students had to fight off sleep—a fight that some did not win.

You could blame the content of the lesson, which was not exactly scintillating, but the steady tone of Stein’s delivery sealed the students’ fate. The moral of the story: do not be the droning professor.

No White Noise Allowed

Research has shown our brains are hardwired to pick up change in our environment and to ignore anything that is predictable, routine, or repetitive. Think about what that means in the context of your delivery: if you speak without changing the pitch of your voice, you risk becoming white noise, and your audience will tune you out.

Vocal variety means allowing yourself to exercise your full vocal range, dipping into the low notes as well as lilting to the high notes of your voice.

Variety is the Spice of Speech

Everyone’s vocal range is unique. Some people have a very wide range, while others have a more narrow range. One is not better than the other—they’re just different. What’s important is to not confine your voice to one or two notes, relegating your oratory to the equivalent of a lawnmower hum.

Vary your pitch to appropriately reflect your content. If your audience was hoping for a cure for their insomnia, send them elsewhere.

If you found this information valuable, check out my book, On-Camera Coach: Tools and Techniques for Business Professionals in a Video-Driven World, now available from Wiley Publishing. On-Camera Coach aims to take the mystery out of communicating through the camera and provides specific tips and techniques that can make your message sing—and you, the messenger, feel confident in a job well done.