You know those phrases, or small pieces of advice, that stay with you? They might be from random people, maybe from a parent or grandparent. In this case it was from a film and television teacher at my high school.
I didn’t take his classes, but I’d just presented a speech at assembly in my senior year.
This particular teacher approached me after my speech and commented on the pitch of my voice.
“You know your voice will carry further, and hold more power, if you lower it? Make it sound more masculine?”
It stung. I’d thought the speech went quite well. I wasn’t expecting critique. But his advice made me think.
The next time I delivered a speech, I did lower my voice. When I undertook internships at television stations in university, I was again told to lower my voice in front of the camera.
“Speak from your diaphragm. It sounds more authoritative.”
Now, research out of Chicago’s Booth School of Business shows how important our voice is in finding a job.
Researchers Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder found the way job candidates presented their verbal pitch was more important than the way they wrote a resume or cover letter in landing a job or promotion. The ability to speak well helped candidates appear capable and intelligent.
“The words that come out of a person’s mouth convey the presence of a thoughtful mind more clearly than the words typed by a person’s hands—even when those words are identical,” write Epley and Schroeder, who’s now at the University of California’s Haas School of Business. “A person’s voice communicates not only the content of his or her thinking, but also the human-like capacity for thinking.”