Interview Tips Part II: Using Your Voice

In Part I talked about body language and how it can impact your message.  How you use your voice is equally important. Whether you are being interviewed on television, radio or even by a print journalist, your voice can add credibility or take it away.   Hesitating, false starts, shaky, croaky, high pitched, loud – these can all contribute to an interview fail.   Below are some ways you can use your voice to achieve credibility and believability.

Posture – your posture impacts your voice.  For example, slouching affect voice projection making you seem weak and unsure. If you want to sound believable and for the audience to understand you, your voice needs to be strong.  Sit up straight and allow the expansion of air into your lungs.  This will help you speak clearly and without the need to ‘gulp’ for air.

Pace – pace is important.  Too slow and you will come across as unintelligent or condescending.  Too fast will make your words undecipherable and the audience will most likely tune out.   Choose what I call a ‘radio voice’ – the pace at which a talk back radio presenter speaks which is somewhere in the middle.

Pitch perfect – your voice has over 300 different pitches.  Too high will make you appear nervous, too low and no one will hear you.  If you aren’t sure how to pitch your voice then match the tone of the person interviewing you.  This will help build rapport and ensure you are not seen to be underreacting or overreacting to questions.

Tone – there is nothing that loses an audience faster than a monotone voice.  If this is you, there are some exercises you can do to help.  Singing out loud is a great way to improve your tone if you choose the right songs (not Leonard Cohen in this case!).  Also reading a children’s book.  I get a lot of my clients to read Dr Seuss (to children or just out loud).  The true impact of this book will only work if you have a varied tone.  This type of practise may sound over the top but it will definitely have the desired impact.

Pause – build pauses into your answer, particularly when you want to emphasise a point.  It allows people to ponder what you are saying before moving onto the next topic and your message will be more impactful.

Clarity – speak clearly and pronounce every word.  When nervous, its easy to drop the endings of your words.  Slow your speech enough to pronounce every syllable.   Tongue twisters can help – try: “What time does the wrist watch strap shop shut?”  If you speed you will sacrifice the clarity of your sentences.

Confidence – be confident.  Do you “um” and “ah? Most people don’t know they do until they record themselves speaking.  It’s a great idea to do this and play it back so you know for sure.  One method of correcting this behaviour is to pause longer before you start speaking enabling you to gather your thoughts and what you want to say before starting to speak.