Comedian and actor Ben Stein has a wonderful shtick in which he speaks in a monotonous, sing-song style. His droll manner makes him a lot of money for the commercials he does as well as some of the parts he has played in movies. Watching him is entertaining because his lack of color or expression is what makes him so funny.
Were he your minister or the guest speaker at your next event, however, this lack of emotion when speaking would become very tedious, very fast.
If you have been told you speak in a monotone and question your lack of emotion, take the following test.
Standing in front of a mirror, say the words I need it as if you were asking a question. Did your brow furrow? Did the inflection of your voice go up on the last word? If you are not sure about the second qualifier, record yourself when doing this.
Now say those three words again as if you were angry. Did you shake your head in saying it or was there no expression? Was your volume louder than in the previous example? Anger definitely produces emotion if you allow it to.
This time, smile while saying I need it as if you were happy. Did your face show any joy or delight?
Those three examples – questioning, angry, and happy – are three very different forms of expression. Each one should have produced some change in your facial expression, your body language, and most importantly, the vocal variety of your voice.
If you found no difference between the three, you need to open up and allow your emotions to come through; otherwise, people will not only think of you as boring but they could possibly regard you as cold, indifferent, unfeeling and/or uncaring. (Those adjectives alone should be enough for you to want to make the change.)
One of my clients was a very loving and warm woman. Over the phone, however, she displayed no emotion when speaking and it left the caller thinking she was not interested. This was not true. Dawn did care but she didn’t realize that her lack of enthusiasm in talking over the phone was giving the wrong impression.
If you lack expression over the phone, in a face-to-face conversation, or at the lectern, it is time for you to let go of your inhibitions and allow your emotions to be seen and heard. The first step is to practice those three examples above in front of a mirror every day. Change the words and add variety. Say something as if you were tired or demanding or surprised.
You have it in you to speak with more expression. It is merely a matter of allowing it to be.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private sessions and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only complete video training program on voice improvement. For more information, click here.