I am on a train ride from Montreal to Toronto with my wife and daughter and can hear at least five conversations around us.

Hearing these person’s voices, our ears are picking up revealing subtleties about the people around us.  Subconsciously, we begin painting a mental picture of who these people might be and where they came from.  We make reasonable guesses about their gender, age, height, place of origin, education and social standing without even looking at them. Does how you sound really matter?

Vocal evolution has advanced over millions of years to adapt to the reproductive and social needs of our species.  Our voice conveys who we are, where we are from, our intentions and our potential. It determines so many of our social outcomes and yet we often overlook our sound and focus only on our appearance. 

If this train ride transformed into a networking event, our fellow passengers would unknowingly use such vocal information to decide who to approach and talk with. We would then see based on engagement and sound, people hit it off for long durations of time, while other people might avoid each other altogether based on their voice depicting a certain type of personality.

Vocal researchers now know that vocal information, of pitch, prosody, and power, can decide the outcome of many different experiences such as:

  • Job interviews

  • Business presentations

  • Meetings

  • Sales calls

  • Salary negotiations

  • Political elections

  • First dates (and whether there is a second or third!)

  • And promotions

There’s lots of data out there on how voice pitch influences our choice in leaders as well. There you have it, how you sound to others really does have a profound impact on your day-to-day interactions.

Some of us have cultivated the use of their voice to enhance the odds that these outcomes favor their cause, their families, and their tribes. This compelling use of the voice is a primary instrument of charisma.

Reflecting on Voice

We have enjoyed the availability of reflective mirrors for roughly 8,000 years. These simple devices enable us to see how we look to others and help us to make adjustments to heighten our attractiveness and appearance.

These simple devices enable us to see how we look to others and help us to make adjustments to improve our appearance.

The use of mirrors in our everyday lives helps us to avoid uncomfortable situations in our encounters with others, and can give us a boost of confidence when we need it.

Imagine the possibility of being able to reflect your voice back to you. What if you were able to see how your voice would be interpreted by another person or group of people, to make adjustments or train yourself in highlighting the best qualities of your voice?  There’s a lot of psychology at play, similar to body language, wouldn’t you want to have that knowledge and power?

What do you think? Would you benefit socially or professionally from being able to captivate and motivate those around you?  Do you feel that how you sound matters more or less than how you look? Tell us below.

Author Michael Brougham

Michael believes in the potential for smartphones and tablets to unlock the full potential of the human mind and voice. He is CharismaPro’s Scientific Lead and delivered its first version to the iOS App Store. He code's a mixture of Objective-C++ and Swift for fast audio and AI algorithms. Michael's MSc thesis in 2012 provided the first theoretical model of ingressive phonation. He trained under Dr. Laurier Fagnan, an expert of the Bel Canto method of singing, and they enjoy an ongoing collaboration at the intersection of music and technology contributing to Dr. Fagnan’s Transform Your Choir DVD [http://www.transformyourchoir.com]. Michael uses Bel Canto techniques to train executives, startup founders and politicians in charismatic speech in partnership with Stand and Command.

More posts by Michael Brougham

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