Today, I’m diving into exactly how leaders can find their real and true voice.
Leadership, at its core, is about connecting, influencing, and guiding others. The key to that connection is about being real, transparent, and true to your values.
When leaders communicate and act authentically, they connect with their teams, inspire trust, and create an environment where everyone feels valued and understood.
People can spot someone being fake from a mile away. One of the ways to come across as a genuine person is by finding your natural voice.
A leader’s natural voice resonates with their teams because it comes from a place of sincerity and self-awareness.
In this blog, I’ll explore the eight methods leaders can discover their natural voice–an essential part of leadership communication.
The speaking voice vs the real voice
Leaders often face hurdles in staying true to themselves.
Social expectations and the fear of showing vulnerability top the list. There’s a pressure to fit a certain mold, to appear always strong and unshakeable.
This can make it hard for leaders to show their real selves, especially in professional settings where showing any sign of weakness is seen as a flaw.
Balancing a professional demeanor with personal authenticity is tricky.
On one hand, leaders need to be professional, sticking to certain norms and standards. But on the other, being authentic means letting the true personality shine through, even if it doesn’t always match traditional leadership views.
With respect to voice, what ends up happening is leaders unconsciously lose their real voice and start adopting a speaking voice whenever they’re communicating with their teams or clients.
This voice sounds more formal and polished than the one they use with friends and family. It’s like they wear a suit for their words, thinking it will make them seem more impressive.
But here’s the thing: it’s their real voice, the one they use in casual chats, that truly makes a difference. Because the genuine voice is warmer and more relatable and helps build rapport when communicating with teams or colleagues.
Of course, the words we use and some aspects of the way we communicate will be different, but a leader’s voice should always be real.
Phony voices are easy to spot, and unless you’re an MC or a voice-over artist, they’re unnecessary.
So, how can leaders communicate with their real voice? Here are eight ways.
Find your ‘why’
The ‘why’ exercise is a powerful tool that helps leaders communicate passionately. When a leader finds their ‘why,’ the way they communicate transforms. People can hear the passion in their voices. It hooks and captivates an audience.
Think about how you’d speak about your favourite football team compared to something you didn’t care for. The delivery would be completely different.
Why? Because you genuinely care about your football team.
Sometimes, at work, the ‘why’ gets lost. Leaders are following a monotonous routine. It’s the same weekly meetings and project updates. When it’s time to present to a client, they’re running through the same slide deck.
Rediscover the ‘why’ by taking a moment to reflect on why this team meeting or client pitch is personally important to you (not your company).
If you’re an advertising executive, you want to secure the client for profit, but on a personal level, you might genuinely believe in the product you’re helping a client launch.
When leaders understand and connect with the reason behind their message, their voice naturally becomes more genuine and compelling.
Articulation exercises, including the practice of tongue twisters, play a pivotal role in refining a leader’s communication skills.
These exercises challenge your vocal muscles and improve your diction, making it easier to pronounce words clearly and confidently.
As you navigate through complex phrases and rapid word sequences, your mouth and tongue become more adept at forming sounds accurately.
This enhanced enunciation makes your speech more understandable and boosts your confidence as a leader.
When you know you can articulate words without stumbling, your natural voice emerges stronger and more assured. Incorporating these exercises into your daily routine can transform leadership communication, allowing you to convey your messages more effectively and authentically.
Warm-up your voice
Do vocal warm-up exercises before stepping into the spotlight or addressing your team.
Simple exercises like lip trills, or gentle humming can significantly benefit your voice. These activities work to relax and warm up your vocal cords, minimising strain and tension. By doing so, your voice gains a more natural, fluid quality, free from the tightness that often accompanies nerves or an underused voice–especially if you’re talking first thing in the morning.
By starting with deep breathing exercises, you can significantly reduce public speaking anxiety and prepare your body for speaking.
The technique is simple yet effective: slowly inhale through your nose, allowing your chest and abdomen to expand fully with air, hold this breath for a few seconds to allow oxygen to circulate, and then gently exhale through your mouth.
This process of deep breathing helps to alleviate tension and anxiety, creating a sense of relaxation and focus.
As your body and mind settle into a calmer state, you’ll find it much easier to access and project your real voice.
Storytelling practice allows you to weave elements of your own experiences into the narrative, providing a unique and authentic perspective that listeners can connect with on a deeper level.
And when you deliver information combined with personal experience, your real voice inevitably emerges.
It makes it clear to the listener that you’re speaking from a place of personal truth, making your words relatable.
Read out aloud
Practicing reading aloud on a daily basis, whether from a book, magazine, or newspaper, is an invaluable exercise for discovering and honing your natural voice.
The more you read out aloud, the more refined your pronunciation and articulation will get.
You will also become more aware of how your voice sounds in different contexts, which helps adjust and refine your speaking style.
This process improves your clarity and delivery and makes you more comfortable and confident in using your voice.
Over time, you’ll find that your natural voice emerges more effortlessly.
Smile as you speak
Genuinely smiling as you speak has a profound effect on bringing out your natural voice. When you smile, it alters the shape and dynamics of your vocal tract, naturally lifting the tone of your voice and making it sound more warm and inviting.
This physical change can also have a psychological impact, helping to reduce stress and anxiety levels, which are often barriers to expressing your true self.
Smiling releases endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that increase feelings of happiness and relaxation, further facilitating a more genuine and relaxed vocal expression.
Additionally, smiling as you speak creates a positive feedback loop; it makes you feel more at ease and tends to make your audience respond more positively.
Hire a voice coach
A voice coach can objectively assess your current vocal qualities, identify areas for improvement, and provide personalised exercises to develop your voice’s strength, flexibility, and expressiveness.
Through one-on-one sessions, a voice coach can address any habits inhibiting your natural voice, such as tension, poor breathing patterns, or lack of vocal range.
They offer constructive feedback in a supportive environment, allowing for gradual improvements and the development of confidence in your vocal abilities.
Additionally, a voice coach can help you understand how emotions and psychological factors impact your voice, guiding you to use your voice authentically and align it with your true self.
Remember: your natural voice already exists. It’s something you need to re-discover, not create.
The natural voice emerges effortlessly when we’re with friends and family.
At work, we feel more formal and the need to impress, so we end up squashing our natural voice and opting for a performative voice.
Try my practical exercises on a regular basis and your real voice will inevitably emerge at work, empowering you to connect with your teams.
And it’s always worth supplementing your self-help practices with the support of an experienced public speaking coach who can provide you with more tailored guidance or enrol in an online public speaking short course.
Good luck! And if you want to hear more from me, you can find me on: