I worked with a woman who always sounded distant when answering the phone. In truth, the tone in her voice made her sound uninterested. No matter who was on the other end of the line, be it her colleagues or prospective clients, the tone in her voice gave the listener the feeling that she was cold. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Dawn was a very warm and sensitive woman; however, her tone of voice did not convey her friendliness, her interest, or her compassion.
When it comes to the speaking voice, tone deals with the expression of a mood or emotion. In relationship to your delivery, your tone can have a surprising influence on how your topic or subject is perceived. Were you to give a motivational speech, your tone would be different than if you were speaking to a master’s level class on horticulture.
When I was teaching the graduate journalism students at the University of Western Ontario, it was fascinating to listen to these very talented young people in their delivery of the news. Many of them reported the story of a murder with the same tone of voice that they used to announce the Stanley Cup winners as well as the rescue of a horse by a young boy. Each of these stories requires a different tone of voice.
Along with tone, you must also consider color in your delivery. Color is the life, the animation, the emotion you express not only in your vocal variety but also in your facial expression and body language. Color goes hand-in-hand with tone.
Without color, your delivery will be boring no matter what tone of voice you are using.
While tone is dependent upon the color in your delivery, your mood or emotional state can convey a different message from what you are actually trying to say. Were I to tell my dog that she is bad but use an inviting tone of voice, she will think that I am pleased with her. Likewise, were I to talk to her in an angry tone, while telling her that she is a good dog, she will think I am upset with her.
In working on expressive delivery skills with my clients, I teach them to paint a picture with their voice. For anyone listening to audio books, this is a standard technique the reader will use to add interest, allowing the listener to ‘see’ what the reader is saying. Take that advice one step further and become aware of your tone as you speak.
Is the tone of your voice inviting or does it tell others that you are not interested? If you are describing a wonderful adventure, is your tone conveying your excitement or do you sound bored?
Next time you are planning to give a presentation, a toast, a eulogy, an acceptance speech or whether you are just introducing another speaker, record yourself and listen to the tone of your voice. Does it match what you are trying to say or is it telling a different story?
If you’re interested in improving the tone of your voice as well as discovering your deeper, richer, more mature-sounding voice, you can work with me privately by means of Zoom. For more information, visit my voice training programs page.