“We may live in a post trust era but this man speaks to us in a manner that invites trust and reliance and in doing so he helps us to understand much more about the human voice=the most influential sound on the planet. Respectful, invitational speach.Harmonizing thoughts, feeling and intensions. No other human capability that uses more parts of the brain at one time. This is an informative talk. Trust through human voice. I am going to timnoonan.com/video to learn more.” – Debra Smith YouTube comment
Back in August I talked about the influential power of the human voice at TEDx Macquarie University 2012
I’ve been contacted by several people with questions about this talk so I thought I would provide my preparation notes covering the key points and some of my reasoning, which I planned to cover on the day.
“I wish I had had the opportunity to tell you on the day how much I enjoyed your TEDx talk so you could hear the sincerity in my voice! Since your talk I’ve noticed a real difference in the way people respond to me, and how I respond to myself. This is clearly a result of how I’ve started to speak in a more positive, calm and sincere manner.” – Chloé Braithwaite TEDx Communications Coordinator
The theme for TEDx Macquarie University 2012 was No Boundaries.
The Human Voice is the most influential sound on the planet! Harmonising thought, feeling and intention – our voices can transcend almost any boundary.
The Voice is all about relationship and connection.
Our voice connects:
The human voice is our most human of qualities.
And yet – for all these capabilities – the voice is one of the most overlooked and under-utilised resources in business today.
Our voice is our identity, whether we are expressing it, repressing it or creating it.
Every time we speak we broadcast who we are and what we believe – in particular what we believe another is capable of, or incapable of, or their perceived relevance or value to us or to society.
As we grow up we are bounded by the beliefs and expectations of others – through their speaking; quite separate from our true potential. I believe that the way we sound can literally grant or deny another their true potential or free-will to succeed or fail.
To me, the most attractive voices are natural and open voices – those which reflect a speaker possessing an open heart and an open mind.
Why does our voice focus seem to be declining?
Drop in interest and concern about Vocal fidelity and audio fidelity;
Digital phones and low-quality voice codecs;
Photos and videos are easier to take than capturing quality voice recordings;
Facebook and Twitter and SMS are short form communications, often done in noisy places, on the quiet and by typing alone;
Voicemail largely failed in ease of use and efficiency, interactivity was too timing dependent;
We’ve got out of practice in the art of conversation and storytelling round the fire or singing round the piano – now we largely consume audio visual materials;
Language and a lexicon around voice has been stolen by marketers and others. e.g. “write using a clear tone of voice” and giving someone a voice on social media;
A continual move forward with visual art and design, but our use of voice has largely stayed still in comparison;
Too much empty speech – really just the words converted to sound;
Excessively disrespectful, plastic, patronising and superior use of voice in media and advertising. AM radio broadcasters, politicians, advertisers – so many of these use a telling mode of communication – using the voice to tell us how to act and what to think;
People – particularly social media promoters – demoting the significance of speech by Equating speaking with provision of information;
Overall, We don’t get a lot of good examples of respectful use of speaking in our culture, perhaps with the exception of babies and puppies;
Technology’s inability to reverse engineer and truly understand the richness of human spoken communications suggests to us that what we don’t understand or remember, doesn’t matter or doesn’t exist. Meaning is frequently equated and limited to machine-readability of data.
How many ways can you say the simple phrase “I didn’t say he stole the money”?
We’ve come to a place where we frequently equate speaking with just the conveying of information;
But the reality is, the voice is biologically designed to seamlessly express thoughts, ideas, feelings, values and attitudes.
So it isn’t really all that surprising that we have started to let go of voice as a principle contemporary communication tool – this is very worrying and even dangerous.
Voice is our identity;
Voice keeps us connected with our humanity – the cry of a baby, the scream of someone in danger – these are primal sounds which remind us of our humanness and trigger a desire to comfort or help;
Healing: when we make loving or caring sound we are massaging our body from the inside out;
We can literally energise or support someone through our voice. Our voice allows us to touch another from a distance – we can literally transmit love, support and encouragement just by how we sound;
We need to curate and pass on vocal wisdom to this and following generations.
Our voice can invite trust, develop trust and we can also learn to listen at a more insightful level to assess or ‘feel’ trust based on the sound of another.
“The human voice forces its way into us. It is really inside ourselves that we hear it. To hear it properly we must allow it to vibrate in our heads and our chests, in our throats as if, for the moment, it really belonged to us. That is surely the reason why voices never deceive us.” – Jacques Lusseyran
I talk in more detail about Jacques Lusseyran and the importance of voice for assessing trust in my Voices, Relationships and Trust Video
The voice is the gateway to our intuition and intuition is key to assessing trust.
Trust can be assessed in the following ways:
Belief in the possibility that human speech and human hearing/listening can read the emotions and assess the trust of another within a specific context;
Rich speech which isn’t missing key emotional and personal information – I call head speaking empty speech;
The congruency of our words and of our sound and body language is the key to trust;
Deeper listening which involves dimming our visual processing;
Allowing a voice to resonate inside us, to feel how it makes us feel, rather than limiting our focus to just the words;
When questions or doubts arise, probing or seeking more information.
Brand trust comes when the sound of a brand and the look and values of a brand are all congruent. Too often this fails when we place so little interest on what voice best marries with a brand.
Our voices are incredibly influential, they have the power to create or to dissolve all manner of boundaries in our families, schools, workplaces, communities and nations.
Our voices can either:
Give – or they can Take;
Support – or Undermine;
Create – or Destroy;
Heal – or Harm;
Unite – or Divide.
It is up to every single one of us to decide – to choose – how we will use our voice from this point onwards.
What kind of relationship do you want to have with your voice?
And in return,
Your voice will lovingly work for you, heal you and effortlessly bestow countless acts of kindness – every single time you speak.
So next time you have something important to say:
Think about what it is you want to say;
Feel the emotions you want to convey;
and then, Say it with Feeling.
Go to Tim’s Inspirational Conference Speaking page to find out more about booking Tim to inform and inspire your next conference or corporate event.
As a person blind from birth, I’ve been exploring the magic and mystery of voice all my life, by necessity and in the last decade or so out of a passion to better understand and appreciate some of its half-forgotten potential and secrets. My voice interests touch on the following areas:
Vocal toning for Health, Happiness and Harmony;
Trust, authenticity, realness;
Insightful listening and redeveloping our natural sense of intuition around voice and sound;
What is the sound and what are the properties of a contemporary voice?
The applications and ethics of voice in a digital world;
moving from self-consciousness about our voice, through to greater consciousness of self.
Tim Noonan is a voice and usability consultant, lecturer, inspirational conference speaker and the founder of Vocal Branding Australia. A professional listener, Tim’s work and passion centres around how we can best use our voices to engage, inspire and influence – leading to more open, sincere and trust-based relationships.
Tim is currently pioneering the emerging field of Vocal Branding – an expertise that arose from his extensive research and study of spoken communication, deep listening and emerging technologies. Tim has a degree in Cognitive Psychology and Education, with a particular focus on how people process and comprehend auditory information.