Vocal volume is a critical aspect of our communication. It’s so important in day-to-day interactions that it requires adjustment based on: room acoustics, ambient noise, proximity to your listener and the nature of your message.
Since establishing Profitable Speech (1994), I’ve met clients who either spoke too softly or spoke too loudly, and in most cases they were completely unaware there was any problem. That lack of awareness is in and of itself problematic, because unless someone points this out, we may continue to be oblivious.
One easy way to recognize if your vocal volume is effective is by paying attention to your audience. For example, if you (or someone you know) speaks too softly, your audience may: exhibit a furrowed brow, lean in to get closer, ask you to repeat what you’ve said, be inattentive, or simply not respond at all. Conversely, if you (or someone you know) speaks too loudly, your audience may: lean back to increase the distance from you, grimace when you speak, cover one or both of their ears, or possibly shorten their time with you. (Our employees, colleagues, clients and prospects may make incorrect assumptions about us because we’re using an ineffective volume.) None of these behaviors is ideal so it’s important to address your vocal volume as soon as possible.
Last month, I encountered this with a client who used excessive volume when speaking. The leader of the organization raised this as a concern. Chances are that if the leader was bringing this up, then others were noticing the loud volume as well. Typically, the underlying cause is physiological or behavioral. My approach was to recommend an audiological evaluation, which ultimately ruled out issues of hearing acuity. My next step was to employ a technique that focused on raising awareness of the volume of others as well as the client and training this individual to adjust the vocal volume level based on the aforementioned factors.
Good news….it’s working and my client is making progress. Now, how may I assist you or someone you know with this same concern?