We all have just one chance of making a good first impression so we might as well make it as good as we can. After all, a first impression can last for a very long time and it’s an impression that is very difficult to change. It may be the difference between landing the client or not, getting the listing or not, being invited into an exclusive networking group or not. A first impression may mean that you’re in or that you’re out.
Rather than talk about general appearance, body language, eye contact, hand shakes, whatever, let’s talk about voice. After all, your voice is often the very first impression you make on someone, when you prospect and meet someone for the first time on the phone.
According to the Journal if Psychological Science, voice pitch indicates thoughtfulness, competency and intelligence. Three keys to making a good first impression with your voice include..
- Practice using a lower voice pitch and voice inflection. Lower pitched voices project confidence and maturity. Higher pitched voices tend to be associated with children and with nervousness. Try to avoid “uptalk,” that vocal inflection at the end of a sentence. “Uptalk” again conjures childishness and nervousness.
- Avoid fillers or crutches such as “um,” “like,” “you know,” “so.” Such fillers are associated with, again, childishness, nervousness and with a lack of confidence. Lisa B. Marshall, a communications expert, suggests that you record yourself talking in order to become aware of how much you use fillers when you speak. Once aware, Marshall suggests that you substitute silence for those fillers as silence helps increase a person’s credibility.
- Don’t be a motormouth, but do speak faster. Studies at Brigham Young University indicate that people who speak faster appear to be more confident. The ideal rate of speech is 150 words/minute, the recording speed for audio books. Again, recording your speech will give you an indication of your speaking speed.
If speaking “in public” makes you nervous, think about taking a speech class or joining a Toastmaster’s Club to give yourself some practice in front of people. If you have trouble speaking certain letters of the alphabet, try exercising with tongue twisters such as “Peter Piper picked…” or inserting an “and” or “the” in passages such as “…the fox jumped over the fence…” and making it “…the and fox and jumped the over and the and fence…” These exercises will force you to speak aloud without thinking what the words mean so that your voice will have a good rhythm and diction to it.