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THE FELDMAN INTERVIEWS

Sound Like a Star to Sell Like One

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Want to inspire more clients and wow audiences? Try working on something that you probably haven’t paid enough attention to - your voice.

Your voice is your most powerful sales tool. It is how the world hears you. It starts conversations. It draws interest and attraction. And most important, it tells stories that captivate and motivate people. 

It’s not the story itself that moves an audience or a prospect; it’s how the story is told. It’s how the words, tempo, pitch, volume and melody all come together. Your voice has the power to turn indifferent prospects into raving fans (or fleeing crowds).

So what does your voice say, and how can you make it better? In this month’s issue, we asked one of the world’s most recognized vocal coaches, Roger Love, how to make your “sales voice” sing and how to rock all your presentations and seminars.

Roger has been a vocal coach for many marquee stars, including the Beach Boys, the Jacksons, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Reese Witherspoon, Jeff Bridges and Colin Farrell. Roger has also coached world-class speakers such as Anthony Robbins, Brendon Burchard and Suze Orman to find their “perfect voice.”

In this discussion with InsuranceNewsNet Publisher Paul Feldman, Roger explains how to find the voice that is authentic to you.

FELDMAN: Most people don’t associate a vocal coach with what they do, but a person’s voice is an extremely important part of all their communications, whether it’s one-on-one or with a group. How do you make the case for why it’s important for salespeople to train their voices?

LOVE: Most people are not thinking that voice is the ultimate communication tool. They’re thinking that education and content create successful communication. They’re thinking that if they had the right words to say, they could convince somebody to buy a particular insurance policy or could create anything they wished … as the outcome for that communication.

But the truth is that although we live in a content-based society, the actual words you use count for less than 7 percent of whether anyone actually believes anything that you have to say. Tonality, or the sound your voice makes, counts for 38 percent. The rest is physiology, which is what you’re doing with your hands, your body, and also what you’re doing internally, such as breathing.

They say that it takes less than a second for people to decide whether they like you enough to listen to what you have to say. There was a study just published in New Scientist magazine in which people recorded the same sentence and extracted just one word from the sentence. Then the researchers they played that one word for hundreds of people and asked them to attach a trait using only one word: honest, truthful, angry. They found the sounds of one word were enough to make those participants believe that they either could trust or could not trust that person, that they either liked or didn’t like that person.

Here you have legions of insurance agents, salespeople and businesspeople who are communicating all day. They’re on the phone, talking to clients or talking to prospects. They’re in meetings, with one person, families, larger groups, and they are focusing on the content. They’re thinking, “I’m going to tell them about this policy. I’m going to tell them about the changes in the industry.”

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But the truth is, before people are able to care even the slightest bit about your content, they must decide they like you enough to listen to you. Even if you have the greatest insurance policy ever created, they’re not going to care if they don’t like you. Your job as a speaker, no matter how many people you are speaking to, is to showcase the best of who you are and to be likeable so that they want to have a relationship with you and want to listen to you. That’s what I’ve been working on for the past 25 years.

If you can control the way other people perceive you, then you have ultimate influence over those people. You can direct the conversation however you want, because you are influencing what they’re thinking.

FELDMAN: What are some strategies you can use to improve your voice?

LOVE: The first strategy is that when you speak, you must immediately come across as happy. People do not want to speak to anyone who is sad or depressed. They want to be around happy people.

You have about a second or two when you start to speak before people start forming impressions about you. So your first job is to make them realize that you are happy now and that you are happy no matter where this conversation goes. You’re just a happy person, so that their thought is “Oh, this is a happy person. I wonder what he’s so happy about.” Then they’ll stay to hear more from you.

FELDMAN: How do you show “happy” with your voice?

LOVE: I add more melody to my voice. We all have a melody, a pattern of notes that we speak that are attached to words.

I could go to a piano and I could take the words that you’re speaking and figure out what notes those are on the piano. Most people speak with almost no melody. It’s as if they were just one note on a piano, so they just keep speaking on the same note over and over and over again, hitting that same note, thinking, “Wow, I’ve got great content and here’s my one note and nobody notices. Sometimes I’ll get a little louder if I get really excited, sometimes I’ll get a little softer, but I’m staying around this one note.”

That’s called monotone. You say, “I would never do that. How boring.” And yet 95 percent of every communication that people make is monotone. If you’re not doing monotone, you might be doing monotone plus one or plus two. So you have your little note that you’re comfortable on, and then when you get really excited you go to this note, and then you come back to the safe note. If I’m a really, really excited person I might have three notes.

But the truth is, there are 88 notes on a piano keyboard. I teach people how to access more melody so that they go down low, and then they’re up high, and what happens? I can emphasize certain words. I want this word to be exciting, so I’m going to go higher on that word. I want this word to be more exciting so I’m going to go down low for that. I use melody as a tool to create emphasis to make people stay with me, wondering what my melody is, wondering what sound I’m going to make next.

FELDMAN: How can people train themselves to use more melody?

LOVE: When we get to a comma, most of us are taught that we’re supposed to go down. When I say go down, I mean I literally go down in melody. That’s a bad melody, because would you really buy a song that sounded like this? The hills are alive [pause] with the sound [long pause] of music.

FELDMAN: No, I wouldn’t.

LOVE: Music has a melody that leads you from these notes to the next notes and then to the next notes and to the next notes, and you are well aware that you are going on a beautiful journey. Speaking has to be the same journey with melody.

So what do we need to do? We need to stop our voices from going down when we get to commas. We need to go up. Just going up like that tells your brain that Roger’s not done.

Every time you go down, you’re saying you’re off the hook. You’re saying, “I’m done. I’m finished talking to you.” But I don’t want that. I want people listening to me, hanging on my words, wondering what I’m going to say next, so I use melody to make that happen.

FELDMAN: Is there a melody that you should maintain throughout a speech or a presentation?

LOVE: There are certain melodies that create certain emotions. So I explained that I wanted to create happy as my first impression, right? Well, there are melodies that go with happy. When you go to a movie and the music starts to play and it’s a horror film, there are all these minor melodies.

Certain patterns of notes sound happy. Certain patterns sound dangerous or scary. Composers know this, but the good thing about just speaking is that you don’t have to go to that level. You just have to mix it up so that you’re not staying on the same note. Then learn the key issues. For example, happy goes higher. You don’t have to dissect the melody as if you’re Mozart.

If you stay on the same note, people think they know what you’re going to sound like and they think they know what you’re going to say next. When they know what you’re going to say next, they stop listening to you because they realize they’re smarter than you are. Who wants to have a conversation with somebody when you know what they’re going to say all the time?

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Melody keeps people on their toes. Specifically, going up for commas and periods or staying on the same note and using lots of high melodies. You’re saying, “I’m going to go up. I’m going to pretend it’s a question.”

FELDMAN: Isn’t that type of speech “uptalk” that some people criticize?

LOVE: Years ago, there were all kinds of negative feedback and articles that said if you go up when you get to a comma and make things sound like a question, it’s somehow bad. But there’s an infinite number of new studies that say those old studies were baloney.

If you go up more, you actually are engaging people because they think you’re asking them a question. They respond automatically in the caveman part of their brain: “Oh, did he ask me a question? Maybe I better listen, because I might be called upon for an answer.” So, your goal as a speaker is to keep the person engaged.

FELDMAN: Once you’ve set the tone, what comes next?

LOVE: The next emotion that you want to create in the audience is that you’re absolutely grateful that you have the opportunity to have this communication. You appreciate their time, you’re happy to be here and you’re grateful. So what sounds go along with grateful? For grateful, we need to look at volume, because most people speak too softly.

They are used to communication that happens all day on the phone, and they certainly don’t need to have a lot of volume.

When you don’t have a lot of volume, you don’t sound very strong. You don’t sound very confident. You sound weak. It’s very easy for others to interrupt you because they’re louder than you are.

If you’re selling something and you are the expert who is confident that these are the exact policies a client should have, volume is immediately perceived as confidence. When you’re louder, you sound stronger and more confident. People buying from you need a confident agent. They need to know that agent is an expert and that expert has provided them with exactly what they need.

FELDMAN: How do you prevent your volume from being a turnoff?

LOVE: Some people are worried about volume. But I say you should be filling up the room. You should pretend that someone is five to 10 feet away from you, and you should speak to that.

When I’m in a room with someone, I’m not trying to make my voice go only to that person. I’m trying to fill up the room with my voice. I’m trying to make it so that my voice vibrates that person’s whole body, so that literally sound comes out of me and it vibrates the front of them and the sides of them. I want it to bounce off the walls behind them and vibrate the back of them, because sound creates vibrations that literally vibrate the people who are in proximity. So I want to fill up the room with my voice.

When I’m speaking on the phone, I don’t put the receiver right here really close to my mouth. I move the receiver far away from my mouth and I speak in the room. I fill up the room. Some of the sound fills up the room and some of the sound goes into the handset, so I need to be louder. Now people say to me, “If I sound louder, I’m going to sound like I’m angry.” But I say, not when you mix it with melody. You can get as loud as you want but if you have melody in your voice, you can be as loud as you want. There’s no way to sound angry when you have melody.

When you mix volume with melody, you become a personality. You become a joyful, full-of-life personality, so you overcome people with positive perceptions.

How bad is it to overcome people with the fact that you’re happy and you’re happy that they’re here? How bad is it to overwhelm people with confidence because they want you to be confident? I’m not shouting at anyone.

If I’m in a small room, I adjust my volume, but not as if I’m talking to myself. People think that if they gave more, then their audience would think this was vaudeville or Broadway or something. But the truth is that people want to be entertained, and you’re either an entertaining speaker or you’re not.

You may think that’s a lot of work, and you don’t feel like being all that presentational or you don’t feel like being all that happy and charming and fun. I would say, great, then you don’t really feel like selling a lot of insurance policies. You really don’t feel like being the highlight of that person’s day. You really don’t feel like being the topic of conversation when someone gets home that night and says, “Wow, I really had a great time with Joe today, you know? He was such a nice guy. I didn’t realize I cared about my insurance person. I’m not sure why I care about my insurance person, but suddenly I care about my insurance person and I’m looking forward to the next meeting.”

FELDMAN: Once you sound “happy” and “grateful,” what’s next?

LOVE: Now you can talk about what you want to talk about. You can deliver content: “I’m an expert. Here are the policies. Here’s what I want to talk about in today’s meeting. I want to show you these things that I found for you. I want to make these suggestions.”

Now, when you’re going into “expert” voice, you keep the volume, you keep the melody, but you slow down your words. We’re dealing with pace, which is the speed of the words. An expert is someone who delivers new information. You might know all about your insurance policy, but your audience doesn’t know anything about your insurance policy, so you slow down your words. The whole conversation starts to slow down. The words are a little bit elongated. Now that I’m talking as an expert, I’m holding out some of the vowels.

FELDMAN: Can you sound too polished and professional?

LOVE: I don’t let people sound like Ted Baxter from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I’m not creating robotic voices that sound fake. I give people the tools to find out what’s authentic about their personalities and then to make sure they’re showcasing those things that are authentic about them. So if you’re a funny person, I’m trying to help you find your voice to showcase how funny you are. If you’re a caring person, I’m giving you the sounds that go along with caring.

Audio Tip: Find Your Authentic Voice


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People are put off by fake. People are put off by polished. People love having a relationship with someone who is authentic and honest. People are sick and tired of other people selling them anything. The sounds that my clients make have nothing to do with sounding as if they’re selling. They have everything to do with finding the authenticity to each client’s voice.

FELDMAN: Can you tell us about some of the people you have helped find their voice?

LOVE: Tony Robbins is one of the most famous public speakers, with 6,000, 7,000, 10,000 people in the audience every time he speaks, but his voice is often too aggressive. He’s got this kind of a roar. He’s very tall and he’s very big and he comes across like a giant, so he can’t talk like that all the time. We had to find a more beautiful part of his voice that wouldn’t be so over the top and so threatening to his audience.

John Gray, who wrote the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, was basically saying, “I know all about men. I know all about women. Here’s what you need to know to keep a relationship working.” And his book was one of the biggest-selling books in all of history.

But when I met him, he sounded like a girl. He believed the more he sounded like a girl, the more he would get women to buy his books. So, I added some maleness to his voice, because I knew guys were going to buy his books, too.

FELDMAN: Does entertainment value equal sales?

LOVE: If you’re delivering no entertainment value at all, just content, then there’s no reason for your clients to want to have a relationship with you. They’re just tolerating you in order to get to the information.

Just because people don’t have a lot of volume or melody doesn’t mean they don’t have any personality. But we need to look at what level of personality, pitch, pace, tone, melody and volume you should be using to accomplish the goal of creating relationships. So, whether you get up in front of 10 people or 100 people, they knew that they picked the right man or woman to do it, because your passion is evident. Your authenticity is evident. Your knowledge is evident, and they care about you and they’re glad they picked you.

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But I want to feel that way when I go to the grocery store. I go up to the checker, who is used to dealing with boring people all day. I look at her name tag and say, “Hi, Roberta, how are you?” with lots of melody. And because I am louder than the last 400 customers, she immediately looks up. She hears the melody, and she’s like, “This guy’s happy!” Then she’ll suddenly speak louder.

This is mirroring. When you’re walking down the street and someone’s walking toward you and says, “Hi,” before you can even think about it you say, “Hi.” Now, if he says, “Hey,” you’d say, “Hey.” We all do this.

FELDMAN: Why do you feel that people naturally mirror in conversations?

LOVE: We’re in a society and a mind-set where most of us don’t like to be completely alone or feel that we’re isolated from everyone. We seek out boyfriends and girlfriends. We don’t like to spend all our time alone. We form relationships with people who are similar to us because we think those people are going to think the same.

It’s all about mirroring and how we connect with people. Babies grow up imitating their parents. That’s how they learn language. If you grow up in the South, you end up with a Southern accent. Why? Because you’re mirroring your parents. If I took Southern babies and I put them in England, they’d grow up with an English accent. Why? Because they’re mirroring. You mirror so that you have a relationship. Babies need to mirror because their lives depend upon it.

When I go into a meeting and speak with a lot of melody, the people I’m speaking to, in the caveman part of their brain, start trying to speak with a little bit more melody too, because they want to have a relationship. When I turn up my volume, they turn up their volume a little bit. Haven’t you ever been in an argument when someone started screaming, so you started screaming, and suddenly you didn’t know why you were screaming, because you weren’t mad?

FELDMAN: Been there.

LOVE: Right, so they’re screaming at you and their words are going really, really fast. And then you’re screaming back and your words are going really, really fast. That’s how the brain works through mirroring.

FELDMAN: How do you mirror when speaking in front of a group?

LOVE: When you’re in front of a group, there’s an energy that comes from the group. They are reacting. They are making noises. They may be laughing, smiling, serious, looking away. You learn to read the group, and that’s how you know to make changes. But you also have practiced your pitch, pace, melody, volumes, tones and melodies of your voice. You’ve practiced in every communication so that when you step on stage, you’re just being yourself. You’re just being the same character.

You don’t wait until you get in front of people before you decide, “Now I should have more melody” and “I wonder how much melody I should have.” You don’t wait until you get in front of people before you say, “Oh, maybe I should be louder.” You learn these things. You learn how to have more volume and more melody. You learn when you should be fast and slow.

Why would you do it without thinking? Because you certainly don’t want to have a conversation about selling an insurance policy while thinking, “I wonder if my melody is good.” It’s got to be the fastest path to unconscious confidence. If you’re thinking about it, you can’t be authentic.

FELDMAN: How do you develop the habit of speaking with melody?

LOVE: Here’s my first rule: You need to change the way you breathe, because the way that air comes into the body and comes out changes the sounds you make. Most people might go to yoga classes or take some exercise classes and they might hear about diaphragmatic breathing. This is the idea of breathing in through your nose, pretending you have a balloon in your stomach, filling up your stomach with air, and then exhaling and letting your stomach fall in.

Audio Tip: How to Breathe


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Take a big breath right now. Now, did you raise your chest and shoulders? Because most people do. That’s called accessory breathing. That’s the way to get the least amount of air into the body, and more important, that’s the way to have zero control of how air comes back out of the body.

When you do diaphragmatic breathing, do not move your chest and shoulders. In other words, have better posture. Bring your chest up, your shoulders back and down. Now air can get past the rib cage and into the lungs. So you breathe in through your nose only; you pretend you have a balloon in your stomach, and then your stomach comes forward.

Now here’s the tip - I speak only while my stomach is coming back in. When I do that, my stomach becomes an accelerator pedal that controls how much air comes out. If you’re speaking by raising your chest and shoulders, and your stomach isn’t coming in and out, you are holding your breath the entire time.

If you stop your stomach from coming in, you’ll sound asphyxiated. More than 90 percent of your readers are holding their breath while they’re speaking. Why would anyone want to hold their breath while they’re speaking?

If you breathe through your nose, let your stomach come forward, and let your stomach come back in slowly a little bit at a time while you’re speaking. Then the words ride out on a beautiful, solid stream of air that creates the perfect melody, the perfect volume, the perfect tone and resonance.

FELDMAN: You talk a lot about nasal voices being a turnoff for audiences. How do you prevent that?

LOVE: The reason it’s nasal is that you’re not breathing correctly. When there’s insufficient air being pushed out of the mouth, air finds an easier way out and it just goes to the sinuses. So it’s almost impossible to speak nasally when you bring your stomach in, because it pushes more air out and then more sound comes out of your mouth instead of trying to get out of your nose.

That nasality is the No. 1 thing that drives people crazy. No one wants to kiss a nasal-sounding insurance person on the mouth.

FELDMAN: That is good advice - to speak when you are exhaling. But why breathe through the nose only?

LOVE: There are filters in the nose called turbinates. When air goes in through the nose, it becomes moist air and it doesn’t dry out your throat.

Don’t you have to make calls all day? Don’t you have meetings all day and night? Well, what happens if your throat gets dry and your cords get all red and puffy and swollen? You’re going to lose your voice.

You’re going to be all scratchy and you’re going to sound less influential. So breathing in through your nose means you can quadruple the amount of time that you could speak in a day.

FELDMAN: How can people train themselves to do that?

LOVE: Here’s an exercise: First, put your index finger on your chin and then slide your finger down to the first bump you find and stop. That’s your Adam’s apple. Speak and see if your Adam’s apple goes above your finger.

If it is, you should try lowering your tongue down in your mouth, without making any sound. You’ll see that your Adam’s apple went down also. With your Adam’s apple lower, you will have a low larynx sound.

The Adam’s apple is the front part of the larynx. The job of the larynx, aside from being the house that protects the vocal cords, is to close off the air hole when you eat so that food and liquid don’t go down the air hole.

Most of us speak with our Adam’s apple too high. The brain thinks that we’re going to swallow, so the larynx is partially obstructing the air hole. That’s why the voice doesn’t sound big and thick and strong and beautiful.

FELDMAN: You talked about finding your authentic voice, and you’ve gone over a lot of great basics here. What’s essential to finding an authentic voice?

LOVE: To find your authentic voice and the sounds that will showcase the best of who you are, you need to own all of the range of your voice. In other words, if you want to be a great pianist and your piano has only two or three keys, you’re not going to showcase your greatest, most authentic, most wonderful piano playing. Part of finding your authentic voice is to open up the range. I have specific warm-up exercises that teach you how to access the three main voices that you have within your voice.

There’s a voice down low where most of us speak, called chest voice. There’s a voice way up high, called head voice. And then there’s an area in between, called middle voice. When you hear singers try to go from low to high, often they have big break in their voice. Sometimes they go all the way up and down without any breaks, without any pressure or straining.

I teach all of my students how to have chest voice, middle voice and head voice by doing specific exercises. Then they own the entire sound palate, from the lowest note possible to the highest note possible.

You could say, “Well, that’s fine if I really wanted to do Broadway or sing at the Met, but I’m just trying to sell insurance.”

I say that unless you have chest, middle and head voice, your voice will never be healthy. You will never be able to have the kind of voice that shows authenticity and emotion. You will never be a great speaker or presenter, because you want the emotions that are tied to chest voice and the emotions that are tied to middle voice and then the emotions that are tied to head voice. You need all of them to deliver your message and what is the best of you.

FELDMAN: Then is there a difference between the speaking voice and the singing voice?

LOVE: There’s no difference. I was teaching voice by the time I was 16 and a half. I was very good at an early age with helping singers get on stage and deliver their songs and move audiences. I started with the Beach Boys, the Jacksons and Earth, Wind & Fire.

It wasn’t until 15 or 20 years later, when speakers started coming to me with their problems, that I realized I could train the speakers to do the same thing I’d trained the singers to do, and I could do it simply.

You don’t have to have an ear. If you think you’re tone deaf, it doesn’t matter. What I learned was that there are certain sounds that are available for all of us in chest voice, middle voice and head voice. The way we use them allows us to showcase all kinds of emotions and passions, and to showcase the best of who we are and become authentic.

So you have to learn how to get all of the range. You have to learn how to take out the sounds in your voice that are separating you from your audiences.

How many of the people who are selling insurance have “uhs” and “ums”? How are they supposed to sound like intelligent, thoughtful, authentic experts if they’re using ridiculous nonword sounds, like “uh” and “um”? I teach people how not to use those words. I have an absolutely foolproof system to help them stop doing that.

Not using fillers like “uh” and “um” will suddenly make you sound as though you went to an Ivy League school instead of sounding as though you went to a school where there was ivy on your desk.

FELDMAN: What is your foolproof system for getting rid of “uhs” and “ums”?

LOVE: You learn to leave silence at the commas so that when you get to a comma, you go up in melody, you leave silence and you breathe. The problem is that most people are not inserting enough breaths into their conversation.

I teach diaphragmatic breathing so that when you get to a comma, you close your mouth, because you’re only supposed to breathe in through your nose, right? You can’t possibly say, “Um,” when your mouth is closed. You breathe in through the nose, and then you open your mouth and you start to speak again. That’s the first thing. You put breaths in with a closed mouth, because now you’re breathing through your nose.

The second thing is that I teach people to sustain all the words together. In other words, connect all the words together until I get to a comma. If I connect all the words together until I get to a comma, there’s no space in between the words. People tend to chunk words together. Here are a couple of words … then here are a couple more words … and here are a couple more words. They’re not connected.

By connecting all the words until I take a breath and then closing my mouth before jumping back into the sentence, I find it’s actually quite easy to lose all “uhs” and “ums.”

FELDMAN: I heard a funny story about how you cured the “uhs” and “ums” in your household.

LOVE: [Laughing] My wife and I told our kids when they were growing up that “uh” and “um” were swear words.

I started them very early. As soon as they were speaking, if any of them said “uh” or “um,” I would say, “That’s a bad word.” Then my older daughter would correct my son. We should teach our kids that. We should teach ourselves that.

FELDMAN: I’m going to start using that one with my kids. Do you think that most people are not even aware of how many times they say “uh” and “um”?

LOVE: I think that if we all recorded ourselves, we would realize how many “uhs” and “ums” we say. We would all realize how nasal and monotone our voices are. We would realize how soft and whispery we are and would discover that we don’t have any control over our volumes. We would say, “Ugh, I wouldn’t buy anything from that person, let alone insurance.”

When you get a new phone, you go to record the message and you say, “Hi, this is Roger Love. Please leave me a message. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.” Then you listen back and it sounds like this: “Wah, wah, wah, boring, boring, boring.” Then you say, “That’s terrible. This must be a really crummy microphone.” You record it again: “Hi, this is Roger Love, and I’m trying something new because I really want to sound like I’m a nice guy and I want you to call me back.” And you listen back: “Wah, wah, wah.”

You do this for about 10 minutes, and then you say to yourself, “Ah, I don’t have any more time to do this. I’m an adult. I’m not going to spend any more than 10 minutes leaving a voicemail message on my own bloody voicemail.” So you settle and leave the last message you did, but you don’t like the sound of your voice on that message, and guess what? Nobody else likes it either.

That voice you settled with is the voice you’re presenting all day in every meeting you’re having. Why should you settle for a voice that you don’t like, and why should anyone listen to it? You’re not entertaining. You’re not engaging.

FELDMAN: Can you give us an example of how deals have gone sour because of vocal quality?

LOVE: I was hired by Quicken Home Loans/Rock Financial in Detroit to work with 300 mortgage bankers who were very good on the phone trying to sell refis except when it came down to saying, “OK, now give me your credit card so that I can charge the 150 bucks to get the loan started.” What would prospects say? “Oh, hey, buddy, can I call you back tomorrow?”

They weren’t good at closing, and I taught them why. It was because the sounds they were making were, “I’m your buddy, I’m your buddy, I’m your buddy,” but there wasn’t enough chest voice when it came time to talk about closing. There wasn’t enough volume when it came time to get the credit cards.

There are certain sounds that will help influence others. Singers know this and great speakers know this, so that there’s no reason we can’t put these sounds into easy practice. It’s simple. Talk with more melody. Talk louder. Get rid of the “uhs” and “ums.” Learn about chest, middle and head voices.

FELDMAN: You have helped many people get on stage and be their best. What are some strategies people can use to get over their fear of speaking in public?

LOVE: First of all, public speaking is the No. 1 fear in America still, and I’m amazed. Don’t we live in a great society, where our biggest worry is having to speak in front of other people?

But given that, what is this fear based on? Why is your body doing that? It’s all about the autonomic nervous system. When you are in a situation where you perceive danger, your body gives you a huge amount of energy to get out of that danger by either fighting stronger than you normally do or fleeing.

Audio Tip: Turning Fear into Energy


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There are stories of people who lift up cars when there’s someone trapped underneath. How did they lift up cars? Of course, they damaged their ligaments and tendons and probably broke bones, but why, in that second, could they lift up a part of a car that they couldn’t before? That’s the autonomic nervous system giving you extra energy.

I train people to understand that the body is trying to say, “Here’s some extra-grade energy for you to have more melody, for you to speak louder, for you to connect with the audience more, for you to be smarter. I’m going to give you this extra energy, but you’re mistaking it and you’re turning that into a negative.”

So I deal with the symptoms of it. I start with the mind-set. First of all, fear is a wonderful thing if you can turn it into positive energy. The first thing that happens is your breath starts getting faster when you get nervous. You start taking shallow breaths, and your blood pressure starts to rise.

The simple technique to slow down your breathing is taking a breath and counting to four at the same time -- one, two, three, four on the inhale - and then exhaling as you count to eight. You’re breathing in through your nose, letting your stomach come out.

When you slow down your breathing, your pulse starts to return to a more normal speed. You don’t hyperventilate, and then all the rest of the things that fear gave you become positive energy because you’re not out of breath; you’re channeling it into positive.

My buddy Gavin de Becker wrote in a book called The Gift of Fear that fear keeps us safe. It keeps us energized. It gives us intuition.

I’d be backstage with Bruce Springsteen, and he’d be all nervous and freaked out and he’d want to throw up. Then he would throw up and say, “Now I’m ready for the stage.” Or I’d be backstage with Barbra Streisand during the heyday of Barbra Streisand, and she’d be all nervous and she’d want to throw up, and she’d say, “Uh, I feel like I’m going to throw up. I can’t sing tonight. I don’t want to do it.”

Bruce realized that in order for him to go out and be The Boss, he needed that extra energy. But Streisand was like, “Uh, my stomach hurts. I probably shouldn’t sing.” It’s how we look at it.

FELDMAN: Many people wouldn’t realize that entertainers get nervous on stage. They seem so powerful once they are up there.

LOVE: Every great performer in the world, whether a singer or a speaker, deals with nervousness. But the great ones learn that it’s part of the process of energizing to get in front of the people.

No one would ever think that I was nervous for a second when they see me speak, but if I’m not nervous a little bit before I go up, I’m not even enjoying the experience. I’m thinking, “Why would I bother to come if I’m just going to go through the motions?” I want to experience it all. I want to give my best. I want to do better than I’ve ever done before.

When I used to sing, every time I stepped on stage I was singing. Now I step on stage and I speak. Yet I’m still performing, and we all should be performing. You don’t have to do a song and dance, but you have to be entertaining enough to at least be listenable and engaging.

FELDMAN: I hear a lot of experienced speakers in this business claim that they don’t need further training. What would you say to them?

LOVE: You said you heard of me through Brendon Burchard, who’s one of the top influencers in Internet marketing and marketing in general right now. He called me one day from the parking lot and said, “I have to go on stage in five minutes. I have absolutely no voice. What do I do?” I gave him low larynx exercises, which also help shrink the swelling on the vocal cords. He went on stage and spoke for 10 hours straight. Then he said, “OK, I have to start studying with you.”

It seems to be some kind of a miracle, although it’s not. It’s just good technique. We formed a business together called World’s Greatest Speaker Training. Now, two times a year, we do an event for four days in Santa Clara, California, where we teach people how to be the greatest speakers in the world.

Even the greatest speakers in the world have coaches. The greatest golfers in the world all have coaches because they’re learning the tips and techniques that will not only keep them great but take them to the next level.

When my people get up on stage or when they’re in a meeting, you don’t know why but you want to give them the shirt off your back. You just like them. You want to buy something from them. You’re entertained by them. You’re engaged by them. They seem to care about you, and you care about them. Why is that a bad thing?

For more on Roger Love, visit theperfectvoice.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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