4 tips for a strong voice during telephone and video conferences
How to avoid “zoom fatigue”: Four simple tips on how to get more noticed in phone and video conferences.
How do I reach my team in digital meetings? Learn the 4 most important tips to get your voice where it needs to be heard in digital meetings!
British King George VI gave his most important radio speech to the citizens of the United Kingdom after the German attack on Poland in 1939. After initial hesitation, it eventually became one of the most impressive speeches George VI ever gave. And this despite the fact that just a few years earlier he stuttered and suffered from extreme stage fright. This story was congenially filmed in “The King’s Speech”. How does one go from being a stutterer to being a good speaker? George VI already had help when he was still Albert, Duke of York. A speech therapist taught him by unconventional means that stuttering could be overcome. But that took a lot of practice. And as far as that goes, we live in glorious times today: The many virtual conferences allow us to practice the presence and expressiveness of our voice every day. If you pay attention to these four simple rules, you will be better noticed in the future and others will listen to you more.
1. talk more slowly
Each of us has a natural and individual speed of speech. In face-to-face contact, it is much easier to follow another person as they speak because we can draw on the full range of facial expressions and body language. Virtual meetings, on the other hand, are unnatural. The image can freeze, is blurred, or is displayed only with a delay. In conference calls, we even have to rely on voice alone. This is sometimes so exhausting that there is already an expression for it: “zoom fatigue,” the state of exhaustion after a video conference. In an interview with the British BBC, behavioral scientist and professor at the business school Insead, Gianpiero Petriglieri, said: “Video chats mean that we find it harder to read non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, voice pitch or body language. Having to pay more attention to that consumes a lot of energy.” One effective way to keep listeners on the ball: Slow down the rate of speech. Normally, we speak at a rate of 150 to 170 words per minute. For virtual conferences, we should only mouth about 140 words per minute. Find your speed. And don’t slow down too much so your listeners don’t fall asleep.
2. pause for more effect
A good way to slow down the rate of speech is to pause after key messages. Give the words room to unfold. In a presentation, we are often tempted to fill emerging pauses with filler words like “uh” or “ehm.” Instead, use silence as a tactic. This requires a certain amount of meeting discipline on the part of all participants so that others don’t take a pause as a signal to interrupt your contribution. Often, we speak quickly precisely when we fear interruption.
3. articulate clearly
The following setting: In a conference call, five people sit at the other end of the line in a room with a microphone spider in the middle. The room echoes relentlessly. One of the participants sits far away from the spider and speaks rapidly in the local dialect. They can’t understand a word. Don’t do this to participants in virtual conferences. Speak clearly into the mic so that your contribution can be heard. Many tend to swallow endings in a normal conversation. Be aware that a virtual conference is not a normal conversation situation. If necessary, practice your pronunciation beforehand with famous articulation exercises such as “Fischer’s Fritze fishes fresh fish” or “The chaplain glues cardboard posters”.
4. use a quality microphone
The built-in microphones of laptops are not very good. The data compression of the video software often makes this sound even worse. You can significantly improve the output quality of the sound signal if you use a decent microphone or a high-quality headset for your virtual conferences. In a room with several colleagues, even a headset with an ambient noise suppression function is useful.