Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Vocal Influence

People have long been adding emphasis to words and phrases when they speak, in an effort to create interest and enhance understanding.  However, there is an additional use of emphasis we should be aware of that comes to us from the world of hypnotism.  Savvy marketers, advertsiers and politicians have used this technique for years, all in their ongoing efforts to inlfuence our choices and the direction of our thoughts.

The technique is called 'tonal marking' by hypnotists.  In essence, you mark out (emphasize) segments of your spoken communications by modifying your voice pitch, volume and/or pace.  This change in your voice serves to emphasize and lend more weight to those specific segments of your message.  In doing so, you essentially end up with a message contained within the body of the communication.

Consider the message below, where the bolded and capitalized words represent the segments you are tonally marking.

           "I don't want your to BUY THIS TOASTER until you've decided that
            IT'S THE ONE FOR YOU"

On the surface, the message appears neutral and fair.  However, when you look only at the passages that were marked tonally, a hidden, somewhat subliminal, message is seen. When tonal marking is used in sales and marketing pitches (as above) it is typically referred to as an embedded command.  Its use may be more or less effective given other elements present throughout the rest of the 'pitch'.

However, what about when the technique is used during communications in which we are not consciously being 'sold' something?  What if we were listening to someone give a talk about gender differences?  They aren't trying to formally sell us, their goal is simply to inform, educate, perhaps entertain.  What if they are relatively new to the professional speakers circuit though, and are trying to create a positive reputation for themself, create a bit of 'buzz' around their name?  It's important to them then that you find them interesting and knowledgeable, that you... in short... like them.  They might then choose to embed messages into their speech to help drive this impression. They might include sentences like the following houghout their speech...

     "if you, LIKE ME, find communicating with the opposite gender confusing..."

     "I'M often astounded to find how much more PASSIONATE women sound when..."

     "When it comes to understanding the motivations of the oppositve sex, I, LIKE YOU find that..."

It's the tonal marking of various phrases, delivered over the course of speech, that provides the subtext.  Now consider the potential for influencing your audience when these messages are delivered over the course of a 10 minute, 30 or 60 minute presentation.

What about if you delivered one such message about yourself with your 5-minute update at the weekly management meeting?  Could the consistent and repetitive nature of this message influence and reinforce their perception of you?  Research would have us believe YES.

TRY your own experiment, by giving IT a go.  YOU just might find that you LIKE the results IT brings!

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