Our Political Leaders’ Voices

Patrick Wintour of the Guardian wrote about the voices of politicians and the impact they have on voters:
“…Research has shown the sound of a voice is worth more votes to politicians than the content of their speeches.”

Ed Miliband is sounding much better after his nose operation.  It must be a relief not to have that discomforting pressure in the head and nose.  Ed’s voice and speech is confident but still needs more profile and distinction.   It needs more variety of rate, pitch and rhythm.  Ed can sometimes sound as if he’s listening to himself.  This is not an indication of a character defect.  If you listen to sound recordings of W.H. Auden, their voices have a similar sound.  Ed Miliband needs to start thinking more about us – the listening general public.  Having good voice and speech doesn’t necessarily mean you are “slick” or trying to fool the public, it means that you are trying to be considerate towards the public.  He’s making good progress – especially with the s.

David Cameron is sounding slightly unsure – his sincerity seemingly is there but his voice still betrays a lack of belief.  Perhaps this makes him more of an honest man!  His opinions must be formed in most instances by sources that he can’t be absolutely sure of.  As time goes by – and certainly if he gets re-elected, his voice may move into a different area and assume that ring of certainty of self-belief that  long-term Prime Ministers have.   Interestingly enough this area is also used by expert conmen and conwomen.

Nick Clegg has a fairly good style of delivery – very similar in style to David Cameron’s, although it doesn’t flow quite so well as David’s and still signals “I feel unnatural” .  He has the voice of a Mafia Don – a very nice and youngish Mafia Don, but a Mafia Don all the same.  The future around him could be interesting.

David Cameron
Nick Clegg
Ed Miliband

Storytelling and Presenting

Storytelling is getting big in the English speaking coaching world.  My colleague and sometime client Roger Jones is skilled in coaching business leaders the Art of Storytelling.  Roger, like many others was inspired by the late Steve Jobs, who guided the Apple team into being world leaders in computers and mobiles phones.  Steve Jobs’ renowned Presentations at product launches won everybody over.   His Presentations were the telling of a story – the story of how the product came to be.  His person to person approach shattered the illusion that computers were for people who dealt in software and statistics alone.  Script was for Creatives.   This in turn led to millions of people becoming technophiles and loving the i-phone.    Steve Jobs knew that graphs and statistics are great for memorising but low on motivating.  He did not underestimate the impact of an image – an image can have a huge impact, but it is particular to an individual.  Stories and words unite people.

The spoken word – language – is the most important communicator.  The joy of using words that express how we perceive and work allow a presenter to transcend any barriers of nerves and self-doubt.  The wordsmith Stephen Fry describes the way he feels about language in the foreword to the excellent Planet Word by J.P. Davidson as:
“The soft rain of dust that falls into a shaft of morning sun when you pull from an old bookshelf a forgotten volume of erotic diaries.”
Words are sensuous.
When a speaker is connected absolutely to what they’re saying they are going to be listened to.  Sara Cox on Radio 1 is a great storyteller and a fantastic example of this.
Storytelling remains the best way to teach children to speak and write.  Of course synthetic phonics are great for children in explaining the connection of sound to spelling – especially children who are learning English as a second language, but the infusion of joy and love in verbal expression has to lie with storytelling.
All of us grew up listening to stories.  To a degree, we’ve been taught to divorce storytelling from our business lives.   As a Voice and Presentation coach it’s wonderful to see and hear the vitality that storytelling brings to a Presentation.  As a person in business, I respond to a good Presentation.
Next Voice and Presentation Course – April 28th

Steve Jobs





The Voice

Really starting to enjoy The Voice.   So good to have such a variety of talent and experience in the “voice coaches”.   Love it that the selected singers get to select their voice coach.  Team Danny sounds good to me.  The chair turnaround is a winner.  I’ve been using this technique on our voice courses for several years.  Sometimes getting the person to speak with their back to the audience until asked to turn around, sometimes getting the audience to turn their back on the speaker until someone in the audience turns around.   It helps to experience the sensation when you reach out with your voice and connect to people with the whole of your body.   It’s the overall voice quality and speech delivery that counts.  Once you’ve understood and experienced the sensation, it’s liberating.  It’s fascinating to witness the transformation that can happen in people’s ability to communicate.