In my work with leaders we focus a lot on leadership presence – exploring the direct and indirect ways we impact and influence others through our communication, behaviours and actions. Much of my work is about helping women discover what they want to say – clarifying their ideas, owning their unique points of view, and finding the right words to express their opinions and deliver messages effectively in order to create powerful connections with their communities, teams, and clients.

A close colleague of mine, Allison Smith, has one of the most intriguing jobs: she is an internationally recognized Voice Talent who specialises in voicing telephone systems and voice overs – if you’ve been on hold, if you’ve been prompted to enter your pin number; even if you’ve gotten an automated reminder for a medical or dental appointment – chances are you heard Allison. Her clients include PetSmart, NASA, 3M, Victoria’s Secret, Royal Caribbean, and many others.

Who better to ask than Allison about how we can literally use our our voice to effect change?

Because in addition to voicing telephone systems – or IVR as it’s known – Allison is a vocal coach. She is fascinated by human speech – not merely what we say but how we say it. She is particularly fascinated by *female speech* — women seem to be more prone to adapt their speech for the situation they’re in, or to comply with cultural or gender norms. Allison’s goal is to encourage everyone to speak from a more authentic place; to speak in your natural tone and pitch, and become aware of the repetitive vocal ‘tics’ and affectations which could be holding you back. You can have the most effective message; if it’s not listenable, your audience will tune out.

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Allison by video so I could ask her: What makes a leader sound like a leader? How can we use our voice to have the bold impact we desire?

Whether you’re in the boardroom, recording your podcast, speaking on stage, or conducting an online class, Allison’s tips are surprising, insightful and above all helpful to all of us seeking to be heard.

Here’s some of what we discussed:

  • How we pepper our conversations with filler words as a means to stay safe.
  • What you may be doing to try to ‘hold the floor’ while compromising your credibility.   
  • What ‘young, rich, WHITE America sounds like– and how to avoid sounding that way.
  • Voice Care 101
  • Tips! Tips! Tips! on managing your nerves, and how to sound relaxed even when you’re not.

Resources discussed in the interview:

Sometimes we forget how we sound, even while we remember what we’re saying. The sound of your voice is part of your message. It affects credibility, trustworthiness, and your ability to inspire. Your message is important and I want your bold voice to be heard.

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