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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, July 16, 2017 1:00 am

Finding voice volume key to communication

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Speaking with clarity is good. But so is being heard, literally, when you speak.

The subject line, “How to Grow Your Voice,” for one of the emails this month from caught my attention, although for different reasons than what the content addressed.

The email was just a few paragraphs, noting that voice is usually “the primary filter through which you unveil yourself to the world.” But some people battle to get their voice heard, in personal or professional relationships, so growing your “vocal range” could help.

Growing voice includes thinking about what people hear when you speak – if they're receiving the message you intended, according to Leadercast, a training organization north of Atlanta. Asking people what they heard might help you discover any communication breakdowns.

The subject line of growing your voice made me think about my “little” from Big Brothers Big Sisters. She's polite, but usually soft-spoken during our outings, which typically include lunch or dinner and some other activity.

I've thought more than once about how one of our activities is going to be spending some time at my house, practicing certain routine phrases or possible short presentations so that I can coach her even more to project her voice.

I want her to be comfortable and confident, even when she's in the company of people she might not know well.

I know she has some voice volume; I've seen it in at least one Facebook video of her with peers. Often when we're at a restaurant, though, I prod her to speak just a bit louder for the waiter or waitress.

So about now, those who know me and are reading this might be thinking “Really?” That's because I have the same tendency, often needing to project my voice a notch or two higher. I still find it interesting that over the years when I've scanned the room during meetings that include a soft-spoken male that no one seems to suggest verbally – or even with their body language – difficulty hearing them.

There are times when being soft-spoken is advantageous. But some people will discount a person's leadership ability based on how they project their voice, although volume is not an accurate measure of competence.

Likewise, being loud doesn't give credence to another individual having strong leadership skills or necessarily the best and brightest ideas. Sometimes too much voice – being loud or talking too frequently – can be a distraction. And that's putting it nicely.

My Little Sis will be 12 near the end of this year. I want to help her adopt the habit of projecting her voice – and knowing when it's useful – while she's young. I think it could help her in any career she chooses. When you're an adult and soft spoken, you usually don't have as many coaches in your corner as you do critics.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at