By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
You don’t have to be blessed with a golden voice or a silver tongue to make it in real estate, but the ability to effectively communicate with buyers and sellers separates top producers from real estate also-rans. With practice, anyone can learn to develop a confident, compelling speaking style, according to Renee Grant-Williams, author of Voice Power, Using Your Voice to Captivate, Persuade, and Command Attention (AMACOM, 2002; $17.95.) Grant-Williams, a Nashville, Tenn.-based professional voice coach, has instructed clients from Attorney General John Ashcroft to pop music superstar Christina Aguilera on how to use their voices more effectively.
The book covers how to use techniques such as modulation, timing, and enunciation to gain greater impact in your spoken presentations. It also explains how to apply this knowledge to sales situations.
“Chapter 8: Turn Up The Sales Volume” provides advice on polishing your sales pitch. It focuses on delivery, rather than content, giving you tips on how to generate trust and build excitement in your prospects. Next time your making a listing presentation or cold call, advises Grant-Williams, remember to:
- Open strong. Grant-Williams says that most people make up their minds about a song by the first three notes. Similarly, you need to set a warm, friendly tone for your presentation from the very beginning.
- Follow your prospect’s lead. Most people react positively to people who are like them. Adjust your speaking style to match your audience. For instance if they speak deliberately, slow down your own pace accordingly
- Use variety to create interest. Droning on in a monotone will put your prospects to sleep, so remember to modulate your tempo, volume, and tone.
Other chapters focus on specific tools that you can use to become a more persuasive speaker. For instance, “Chapter 4: The Amazing Power of Consonants” illustrates enunciation techniques that will capture listeners’ attention. Increasing volume is a simple way to make words stand out, but it isn’t necessarily the best choice. Lengthening the consonant sound for key words can prove more effective, creating the illusion of volume by bringing everything to a halt while your listeners waits for the remainder of the word–think Tony the Tiger. This isn’t meant to imply that you should wander around saying, “This duplex is GRRRRRRR-eat!” However, it does point out the importance of cadence and rhythm in capturing people’s attention.
“Chapter 5: Silence is Golden” stresses the value of the “power pause,” silences in between words that emphasize their importance. Likewise, pausing to evaluate questions before responding projects a more thoughtful image. Even if you are naturally the chatty type, counting silently to three before jumping into the conversation shows that you are paying attention to what others are saying.
Much of the book may cause you to reexamine things that you might not think about often. Take breathing, for example. If you didn’t know how to breathe, you wouldn’t be reading this article, right? However, the way that you breathe can influence your voice’s range and power. “Chapter 2: Just Keep Breathing” shows you how to observe your breathing style, then learn to breath for maximum speaking effect. Grant-Williams advises using “passive breathing;” relaxed, unlabored, natural breathing that uses your lower abdominal muscles to draw in breath. The book also stresses the importance of caring for your voice in “Chapter 12: Rx For Healthy Voice.” This is especially crucial for salespeople, who depend on their voices to make a living. Getting regular rest, drinking eight glasses of water a day, and limiting how often you shout are easy steps you can take to protect your voice.
Some people are born with the gift of gab; others need more practice to perfect their speaking prowess. Whatever your skill level, Voice Power can teach you to how to leave customers hanging on your every word.