The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. – George Bernard Shaw
Everything we do in business involves our voice. Web2 and web3 experiences like podcasting, video, and social audio (LinkedIn live audio, Discord audio/video channels, and Twitter Spaces) revolve around what we say and hear. Communicating in the metaverse through avatars using our voice is as important as the visual experience. In business situations, probably more so.
Would you like to learn how to speak with power and authority? Would you like to learn how to get more people to pay attention to you while talking?
Of course, you do. We all do.
YOUR VOICE IS A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT
To get started, think of your voice as a musical instrument. As an example, let’s go with playing a guitar.
If you’ve never played the guitar before and I handed mine to you to play to a room full of people, what do you think would happen?
Many of us go through life playing our vocal guitars without ever having been shown how to hold, tune and play our instruments. In this article, I will share a few tips to help you use your voice to communicate more effectively and persuasively offline in the real world and online in the digital social audio and metaverse spaces.
After you’re done reading this article and reviewing the resource links I share, you’ll have all the things you need to play your music through your very own vocal guitar in a way that will compel others to listen and take action.
What follows are vocal communication methods I’ve used over the last three decades in court (yes, I’m a lawyer) to win million-dollar cases for my clients. I will also share approaches and concepts to help you make a lasting impact during social audio, video, and avatar presentations in web2 and web3.
We can all agree that what we say and how we say it matters. With that agreement in mind, let’s get started.
First, I want you to be yourself. Don’t try to sound like or come across someone else who you admire.
I made this mistake when I first started practicing law. There were a couple of lawyers in town I watched down at the courthouse who were skilled orators and consistently brought home great results for their clients. I thought that to get the same results they got, I needed to use the same words they used and sound like them in front of a judge or jury.
I worked hard at being like them. I tried to speak the same way they spoke. As hard as I tried, it never felt natural. Because I was faking who I was and how I said things, my message didn’t come across as genuine.
I was winning all my trials but knew something was off. If I wanted to take things to the next level, I knew I needed to raise the bar on what I was doing. So, I took the time to learn more about the art of communication.
Eventually, I came across a VHS tape (yes, I’m showing my age) of famed trial lawyer Gerry Spence, sharing how he effectively picked a jury and gave his opening statement. He immediately grabbed my attention with his storytelling and approach. He was good. Very good.
Gerry’s approach immediately resonated with me. He sounded nothing like the earlier lawyers I mentioned. Gerry didn’t use fancy words, and he doubled down on being himself– a country lawyer from Laramie, Wyoming, wearing a leather jacket and cowboy hat. I grew up on a ranch in Arizona so that probably had a lot do to with me connecting with Gerry.
In any case, I ordered and watched more of his videos. I purchased and read his books. I learned how to try cases from one of the best.
Later I exchanged letters with Gerry (before email and the Internet as we know it today), and he told me his secret to communicating was to be real, to be himself, and to always speak from the heart.
These two things, embracing who you are and speaking from the heart, will impact what you say, how you say it, and how your audience receives your message.
THE SOUND OF YOUR VOICE
In one of the most popular TED Talks of all time, “How to Speak So That People Want to Listen,” Julian Treasure shares the seven deadly sins of speaking and the four cornerstones of effective speaking he references with the acronym HAIL. There’s a good reason why his presentation has more than 34M views.
Seven Deadly Sins:
Four Cornerstones (HAIL)
Please take 10 minutes to watch the video.
As mentioned above, your voice is a toolbox. If you were to put a price on it, I’m sure you’d value your ability to speak as being 100X the price of the most expensive guitar you can buy. With this reality in mind, why not learn how to improve the delivery of your beautiful voice?
Please pay attention to the examples Julian gives when it comes to register (high and low pitch and weight/depth), timbre (the way your voice feels- rich, smooth, warm), prosody (the metalanguage), pace, silence, pitch, and last but not least, volume. Using the six vocal warmup exercises, he shares at the end of the video will also help you warm up your lungs, lips, tongue, and body.
THE 5 STEP PERSUASION PROCESS
Hundreds of thousands of years have wired human beings to be comfortable sitting around campfires, telling and listening to stories. The next thing to learn when communicating with your voice is to share your message through storytelling, voice inflection, and metaphors using the five-step approach I share below.
I want you to think of each of the following steps as if each is a string on your vocal guitar. The message you share and what your audience will hear will only come across the way you want it to if your vocal guitar is tuned correctly. Make sure each string, or step, is tuned and part of your presentation.
Turn your presentation and share your message using this effective communication framework.
#1: State the problem or issue clearly and concisely. Be crystal clear about why you’re here and what you will share.
#2: Agitate the problem or issue. Let your audience know precisely why, if this problem isn’t fixed, things will only get worse.
#3: State a clear and concise solution.
#4: Show how your solution will help your specific audience. In my case, it’s usually a jury in the courtroom or a client I’m consulting in the metaverse.
#5: End with a call to action. Not a sales pitch but a desired “next step,” so there’s no misunderstanding about what needs to happen next.
The above process can take thirty seconds or twenty minutes. It depends on your message, your audience, and how much time you should devote to this process.
Each step may require a different level of depth, storytelling, or statistical evidence. Whether or not you need to dive deep into one or more of these five steps depends on your situation.
But as simple or complicated as your message is, don’t try to deliver it without playing each string on your guitar (steps #1 to #5) with the proper cord in the correct sequence. I’ve noticed that most people jump directly from step one to step five. Skilled oral communicators slow down and play one string at a time. Now you will too.
STORYTELLING AND METAPHORS
When I listen to someone playing the guitar, I enjoy listening and watching someone carefully strumming strings and artfully playing cords shared in a meaningful way. Being forced to listen to someone randomly hit the strings with their pick with no intent, purpose, or skill is not how I want to spend my time. An exception, of course, would be if I’m listening to my neighbor’s five-year-old child after his first lesson. I’ll be polite and smile through the entire experience, but I probably won’t ask for an encore.
When speaking, using stories and metaphors is the way to avoid sounding like the neighbor’s inexperienced child trying to play the guitar for the very first time.
In this video interview, Chris Lema, shares “7 Tips for Communicating Better on Zoom.” Chris is a gifted speaker and communicator. Every approach he shares in this video can be applied to vocal communications through social audio and avatars.
In this podcast interview, Ryan Foland share’s his powerful 3-1-3 method of communication and shows you how to start conversations with attention-grabbing, memorable responses. On a side note, Ryan also drew the communication stick figure at the top of this post. Pretty cool right?
Moving forward, try applying Ryan’s 3-1-3 approach to instantly grabbing the attention of others when starting off your next audio communication. I promise you it will help kickstart the conversation.
In my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Social Media” I share a dozen chapters focused on communication. Most were contributed by friends of mine who are experts.
Carmine Gallo wrote chapter 35, titled “The 3 Unbreakable Laws of Communication on Social Media.” For those who don’t know Carmine, he’s the author of the best-selling book “Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds.”
In his chapter, Carmine points out that while communication tools have changed because of digital technology, how people process information has not. He dives deep into why our communication efforts should include being (1) emotional, (2) novel, and (3) memorable. Because Carmine’s findings are based upon his interviews with the 200 top TED speakers, I started applying Carmine’s tips immediately to social audio and avatar communications. They work great!
The metaphor that communication expert, Anne Miller, shared with me the night before a closing argument helped me with a million-dollar jury trial for my client. In my case, the defendant company skipped specific safety steps resulting in my client’s son being killed.
During my closing argument, while holding my pen like a gun, spinning an imaginary chamber, and then holding it up against my head and pulling the trigger, I pointed out to my jury that the defendant played “Russian roulette” with my client’s life.
This simple metaphor resonated with my jury.
After the verdict, one of the jurors told me they kept returning to the Russian roulette metaphor during their two days of deliberations. It stuck in their minds like a piece of chewing gum stuck to the bottom of their shoe. They didn’t remember all the facts and evidence of the case, but they remembered how this metaphor made them feel.
I chatted with Anne in this podcast episode, “Hooked! Why Metaphors Should Be Part of Every Social Media Strategy!” It’s 18 minutes of pure gold. Please give it a listen.
Pay attention to the movement and location of your avatar.
Growing up, a family friend, Travis Edmonson, lived with us for the summer on my family’s guest ranch in Tucson, Arizona. He was a professional musician and guitar player. When Travis played, he wouldn’t just stand on stage.
Malagueña Salerosa was one of the most memorable performances he shared with guests around the campfire at night. It wasn’t just his guitar playing and voice that made the song special. It was his presentation.
While the fire burned and the wood cracked in the open firepit, guests would hear music and a soft voice approaching from the darkness. As the minutes passed, the music and Travis’ voice gradually became louder as he strolled from the night into the campfire light. Click play on the above YouTube video. Close your eyes and picture sitting around the campfire, experiencing Travis singing Malagueña Salerosa.
Just like Travis allowed the dark desert night, bright campfire, and his movement to create a magical moment I still remember to this very day, you should also add physical body language and movement into your metaverse conversations and presentations.
Use your arms and hands to help emphasize important points. When I’m in the metaverse, I see a lot of avatars facing away from other avatars they’re having conversations with. It’s not a big deal, but little things can make a big difference.
It’s always best to rotate your avatar to make digital eye contact with your audience. If you’re using a headset that’s reading your face, lips, and mouth, double down on your facial expressions that are being communicated in real-time through your avatar.
USE ANCHOR SPOTS
Are you using anchor spots while appearing as an avatar in the metaverse? Do you know what anchor spots are?
In a trial, when I’m talking about something important in my case, I’ll usually stand at a spot in the courtroom between the jury and my judge. I want the jury to see a figure with authority over my shoulder while I speak.
Indirectly and while using all of the above communication techniques, I eventually become someone with authority when I walk over and stand in this same location once or twice daily during a two-week trial, sharing questions, arguments, and evidence.
If I have a negative issue in the case I need to discuss, I’ll stand at the complete other end of the jury box. This is where I minimize and even dismiss the other side’s evidence or put holes in their case.
Subconsciously, what happens over time is that by working both ends of the jury box, my words, actions, and location condition the jury to place the appropriate weight on what they hear me say.
Experienced speakers do the same thing on stage with anchor spots. You may not have realized it, but when they walk to the right and stand next to an object or prop, they communicate one thing. Another message is sent when they walk to the other end of the stage. Their use of anchor spots is intentional.
Whether you’re in a small virtual space or giving a presentation in a sizeable metaverse-hosted conference room or stage, pay attention to the movement of your avatar for all of these reasons. If you practice and go about things the right way, you’ll leave your audience feeling like they just listened to Malagueña Salerosa for the first time while sitting at the campfire back on the ranch.
Don’t just buy a guitar and let it sit in the corner of your room. Instead, learn how to hold, tune and play the strings. Add one new cord to another and begin to learn and play songs. Put those songs together in the right mix and give your audience a presentation they’ll remember for a very long time.
The approaches, tools and resources I share in this article will help you use your voice to communicate better. If you take the time to learn these simple but proven techniques, and then apply them the next time you’re on social audio or in the metaverse, you’ll be more engaging, persuasive and stand out.
Enjoy your new vocal journey, and make your next presentation a masterpiece!