I recently conducted an interview with a soft talker. He was a fantastic candidate. He possessed the skills and experience necessary for the position I was interviewing him for. He had a great employment track record, a professional demeanor and a positive attitude. We presented the candidate to our client and facilitated a telephone interview.
Prior to the interview, I spoke with the candidate and offered some suggestions to guide him through his interview preparations. He researched the company. He knew the players. He knew as much as he could about the culture. He knew the company’s stock price. He had great examples of past performance to share. He was ready to go.
I reminded him of the importance of articulation, verbiage, pronunciation, intonation and non-verbal communication. While I wanted to be sensitive, it was important for me to address his volume of speech. Voice quality, emotion, speaking style, rhythm and emphasis are all important aspects of vocal communication. Equally, volume of speech can affect the way a message is received.
A deep voice is remembered. It conjures confidence and command. Who can’t immediately recall James Earl Jones’ voice? “Use the force, Luke.” And, who hasn’t slipped in a little baritone while singing a Barry White song? “Oooohhhh yeahhhh!” Yet, I can’t remember many soft spoken professionals or celebrities other than Andy Warhol.
Coaches often elevate their volume of speech while conveying a specific directive. The raising and lowering of their voices lures the team and forces them to focus on the point being emphasized. Parents and teachers often raise their voices in an effort to command the attention of their children and students in much the same way.
There are other techniques that can be implored to capture their audience’s attention, however. A former colleague, who happens to be a Training professional responsible for curriculum development and program facilitation at a Fortune 100 company, once shared he would purposely speak in a very quiet tone at the beginning of his seminars. He felt he was able to attract the attention of his participants more quickly, and he found they made a conscious effort to remain attentive throughout the entire program.
The soft-speaking candidate had his view, too. He shared that while the volume of his voice is naturally soft; he felt it was an attribute, not a hindrance. He furthered his point by saying a softer tone made him more approachable to his team. They felt less intimidation and were more apt to approach him proactively when they anticipated challenges. He said they became accustomed to listening more intently and he saw, first hand, the way it impacted his team’s interpersonal communication. The team became more open to sharing knowledge and more willing to receive feedback.
I greatly respected the candidate’s perspective and encouraged him to provide good examples of how he has been able to leverage his communication skills to benefit a team and company [during the interview]. More than 50% of face to face communication is delivered through body language. Tone of voice accounts for 38% of message delivery, and 7% of a message is transmitted by choice of verbiage.
None of that matters if the person you’re communicating with can’t hear you. So, speak up and be sure you’re speaking with passion and purpose. You have the knowledge. You just have to convey it.