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28 Feb

Speaking Skills: Find Your American Power Tone

Speaking skills--American power tone--communication skills

When you need to convey confidence and power–

you need your POWER TONE.

Ever notice how when some people speak, others listen–and when others speak, no one seems to listen?  Ever notice that some people command positive attention when they speak–while others don’t?  Part of the recipe for successful speaking and presenting is finding your Power Tone.  Of course you need a message to go with that tone.  But a message without the tone might go unheard.

How do you find your power tone?  What must you do to reach and hold it?

Effective communication in the workplace takes practice. The following comes not from onsite communication training, but rather from a communication-at-work resource I authored called “Communicate in America.”  Whether you’re dealing with difficult people at work or at home, tone is critical. Read on to learn how to find your American Power Tone.

Do you ever get the feeling that you aren’t being taken seriously– and you don’t know why? Do people think that you’re cute but wouldn’t trust you with their major accounts? Do they smile at you as if you’re a child while you’re speaking and you don’t know what’s getting between you and your message? It could be your tone. Let’s start at the very beginning.

There are three components to any message that we send. There’s a verbal component, a vocal component and an “everything else” component. Here’s what I’d like you to remember. The verbal component, or the words, is generally about 7% of the message. The vocal component, or the tone in our voice, is 38% of the message and everything else which is basically body language makes up 55% of the message.  Your reputation is on the line with every word you speak, but your tone can determine whether or not those words are taken seriously.

Different cultures have different tones that they use when they’re speaking and many people who are novice communicators simply change the words but not the tone. Different people within those cultures use different tones when communicating. Your tone will immediately command respect and attention or it will not.

I’d like you to practice finding your professional American power tone. If you are from a different culture–you still might want to learn this lesson for those times you’re communicating with Americans.

I’m going to have you repeat some things after me, but before we do that I’d like you to simply do the following. Pretend that you’ve just taken a bite of your favorite food after living without it for 10 years and it is more delicious than you’d remembered. Now out loud repeat after me. “MMMMMM. MMMMMM.” Notice the vibration in your throat at the end. “MMMMMM.” Now I’d like you to imagine you’re pondering the secrets of the universe and you just had a breakthrough. You are thinking about that breakthrough. Repeat after me. MM huh. MM huh. Again, notice the vibration at your throat at the end. Now I’d like you to pretend that I’ve just said something you wholeheartedly agree with.  Repeat after me.  “Mm Hum. Mm Hum.”  Again notice the vibration in your throat at the end. You’ll notice that when you make these sounds there’s a vibration that comes from a particular part of your throat. You’ll notice that when professional Americans, especially executives, are engaged in a serious conversation this is the tone they tend to use. This is what’s known as the power tone. I’d like you to practice saying Um hum again. Now with that same tone MMMM. I’d like you to repeat the following lines after me.

“Hi, I’m Dan.  It’s nice to meet you.” Now, I’d like you to remember one thing before we move along. I’d like you to add “My name is…,” to your Danger phrase list. The reason is, you will not hear powerful accomplished American professionals saying, “my name is anything.” That is reserved for those up and coming executives. Think about people who have achieved, who have made it, Oprah Winfrey, Betty White, Robert DeNiro, Larry King. How do they introduce themselves? They would never say, “My name is Martha Stewart.”  Instead they would say, “I’m Martha Stewart.” “I’m Larry King,” and so on. So, remember the Power phrase is “I’m.”

Again I’d like you to repeat after me. Find your tone, Uh MM and now repeat. “Is Mrs. Anderson available?” Now I’d like you to repeat this. “Sure Mr. Johnson I’d be happy to help you with that.” Now repeat. “I believe I have the solution.” And now repeat. “Hi, this is Dan O’Connor calling, is Mrs. Davies available?”

I’d like you to watch powerful communicators on television today without concentrating on words or meaning. Rather, I’d like you to concentrate on just the tone. I’d like you to simply watch for a few minutes Oprah Winfrey, Diane Sawyer, Larry King. You’ll see that they all use similar tones.  Watch them as they speak. Mimic the tone simply by saying the word, Rutabaga over and over again using their tone. Rutabaga. Rutabaga. Rutabaga. You’ll find yourself speaking in a smoother, deeper, more powerful tone and you will amaze even yourself. Remember it takes only seven seconds to form a first impression. Seven seconds and people cling to that impression.  To elicit the best first impression when you’re meeting someone, when you’re giving a presentation, when you’re meeting a new client, or when you’re introducing yourself, remember, before you open up your mouth find your power tone. MM MMMM

Now that you’ve found your tone, let’s talk about meeting face to face. You will learn about something called Proxemics, space relationships and a tactic called Sidle Up. Picture yourself walking up to a man to initiate a conversation. Now picture yourself walking up to a woman to initiate conversation. Was your approach different? It should have been. Have you ever noticed that when two American women are talking they tend to stand face to face but when two American men talk they tend to stand at an angle or side by side. There are many theories as to why they do this but the important thing is not to know why, but instead to know what to do. If you’re talking with a man, once you approach him and are about to start talking remember to turn to the side or Sidle Up so that you have to slightly turn your head to talk to him. If you’re approaching a woman, be conscious of approaching her and talking to her face to face. If you approach a man face to face, this could be interpreted as aggressive and it tends to make men feel uncomfortable. If you approach women to the side, it tends to make them feel as though you aren’t giving them your attention and that annoys them. While most people are unaware of this, if you watch Americans of the same sex communicate with one another you will find this to be true and if you want to communicate like an American, knowing and applying this will bring you one step closer to that goal.

To join Dan’s training group: click here!

Do you want to learn more about communication training that can help you become a more powerful, assertive, direct communicator? Communication that can change your life? Go to check out Dan’s audios and videos, along with his 50-lesson comprehensive communication training course.

Does your office need a communication trainer–a world-renowned expert trainer in customer service– who can help you create a healthy, safe office environment? Would you like training in handling negativity; teams and leadership; and creating a respectful, professional work-place? Then go to and request a quote from Dan and his team.

Dan O’Connor specializes in delivering strategic verbal patterns, danger phrases, power phrases, lead-in lines, closing lines, freestyle scripts, and other specific tactics that participants can immediately use to achieve instant results both at work and at home.

Thousands of individuals listen each day to Dan’s online podcasts and watch his videos, and the nations leading businesses have had Dan come onsite to help with creating healthier relationships, a more positive work environment, a superior customer service force, and an atmosphere that promotes and values all of the people ­­all of the time.

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