The power of your voice
My captivation with the series The Crown and the upcoming wedding of Prince Harry has everything royal—along with anything close to it—catching my eye. That includes the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher. She was nicknamed the Iron Lady, in part for her leadership style. Her commitment to this included enunciation lessons to develop a more common accent and voice coaching to generate a tone that communicated authority.
Thatcher’s voice lessons were the inspiration for a study, The Sound of Power-Conveying and Detecting Hierarchical Rank Through Voice. Researchers conducted two experiments to look at how voice is affected by power, and how power is perceived based on the voice features used.
Experiments on voice and power
The first experiment found that speakers in high-rank positions used a higher pitch that stayed constant and varied their loudness compared with individuals in lower-ranking positions.
The second experiment asked listeners to make inferences of a speaker’s hierarchical rank based on the voice they head. Voices that used a higher pitch, greater loudness, and more variability in the loudness were equated accurately with high-rank positions.
The results: vocal quality impacts perceived authority
The results demonstrate the importance of self-awareness and skill development to ensure that your voice communicates the authority of your position. Your ability to be heard, to engage, to influence, and to persuade is influenced by your command of your voice.
Pitch and loudness are components of voice and tone of voice that many of my clients struggle with. Through coaching, they are able to develop mindful awareness of their speaking, and with practice they can incorporate new skills in daily speaking situations. In short, they become the rulers of their voice and command attention and respect from colleagues and leaders.
The Sound of Status: People Know High-Power Voices When They Hear Them. (2014, November 24). Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/the-sound-of-status-people-know-high-power-voices-when-they-hear-them.html
Ko, S. J., Sadler, M. S., & Galinsky, A. D. (2014). The Sound of Power. Psychological Science, 26(1), 3-14. doi:10.1177/0956797614553009
Sawer, P. (2012, January 08). How Maggie Thatcher was remade. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/margaret-thatcher/8999746/How-Maggie-Thatcher-was-remade.html
Image credit: WikiImages on Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/en/margaret-thatcher-politician-67746/