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Want to Make More Money? Use Your Voice!

Research shows that CEOs with lower voice tones make $187,000 more than those with a higher tone!

Our voice tone, cadence, and pitch play an integral part in how others view us. This is something you can improve with a little bit of practice. I want to point out a few things you can do today to improve your audial presence.

Results from a study at the University of Chicago revealed the average human ear can distinguish 1,378 noticeable differences in tone.  By comparison, we can distinguish only 150 hues of color. Based on this scale, hearing is almost 10x more sensitive than our eyesight. Their research also showed that how you say something is five times more important than what you say. Thus, the importance of voice inflection.

Avoid the question inflection – Whether it's called the upward inflection, high-rising terminal or simply "upspeak", the habit of making statements sound like questions is something that you want to avoid. In 1993, in a New York Times article, journalist James Gorman established the term “upspeak. In pop culture, upspeak is known as “valley girl” speak, a social class stereotype popularized in the ‘80s as a riff on the dialect of upper-middle-class young women from the valleys of Southern California. Some people believe the phenomenon is used by uncertain speakers hoping to win their audience over. It acts as a constant check that listeners follow - phrasing every sentence, no matter how declarative, is a subconscious begging by the speaker to be reassured. If you hear it from younger women, you suspect them of being excessively unsure, though it's not intended as such it can be interpreted as a form of conversational weakness. During job interviews, an interviewer may perceive the interviewee as being hesitant and less confident in themselves. Most often, this change in pitch indicates questioning, insincerity, surprise, or suspense. So don’t use it when you’re stating facts or closing a deal.

Instead, use a downward inflection. A downward inflection is a change in pitch going from a higher to a lower note, specifically within the vowel. A downward inflection at the end of a sentence makes it more powerful and tells the prospect you’re confident with your message. Most often, this change in pitch indicates confidence, finality, power, and certainty. This is the inflection you want to use when stating facts, closing a sale, and setting appointments.


  • Practice in the mirror – You’ve probably heard about the trick of placing a mirror in front of you while you’re on the phone. The reason it works is not psychological but rather physiological. When you smile, the soft palate at the back of your mouth raises and makes the sound waves more fluid

  • Awareness: Another way to improve your inflection is to be aware of how stressing certain words changes the feeling of what you’re saying

  • Learn to take slow, deep breaths (without sounding like Darth Vader) – Most people become shallow breathers when they’re under pressure. The more pressure or stress you feel, the shallower and quicker your breathing will be. When this breathing pattern happens, your vocal cords tend to tighten, making your voice go up and sound strained.

  • Record your current presentation – Take notes on where in your presentation you naturally use inflection and which type of inflection you use. From there, you can plan where you want to use inflection.

  • Practice changing your speed and volume – By doing so, you can see what feels natural to you, along with what sounds best for the listener.

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