• User AvatarMiriam
  • 11 Nov, 2023
  • 3 Mins Read

Tone of Voice – when it’s like listening to a great song through the cheapest speakers money can buy.

If you listen to your favourite song through the cheapest speakers money can buy, that is poor tone and it can be incredibly difficult to listen to. The tone of your voice so it’s something that I think is very important in life. 


It can literally make or break a date, for example. And you may not get that job if the boss cannot stand the sound of your voice. Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana had a breathy tone, and Margaret Thatcher had a harsh tone, until she got speech lessons. 


What’s tone got to do with effective workplaces and successful sales? I used to run a whole workshop on this very topic but now it is implemented in all my training, whether it’s face-to-face or in the videoed training because, for so many aspects of our life, it can really have an effect on our success, whatever success means to you. 

What is tone?

The tone of our voice is what we sound like. We can train aspects of our voice to develop a warm tone that is easily listened to but we might not ever be able to develop a voice like Dame Judy Dench*, for example, or Mike McRoberts. The purpose of our tone of voice is what message we are wanting to convey and also how to use the correct tone effectively. 

Sarcasm, irony, contempt, excitement, shyness, boredom, irritation, tiredness…the list is really long as to what we carry in our tone of voice. Jordan Belfort, Wolf of Wall St, said we need 10 tonalities for successful sales – not just knowing the 10 tones but when to employ them. 

10 is quite a few and in the modulation aspect of speech there are 6 ways to change your tone – pitch, pace, pause, volume, inflection, emphasis. 

One tone is the ‘I care’ tone. Jacinda Ardern has this tone down in spades. So did Barack Obama and Bill Clinton for that matter. They ‘warmed up’ their voice by speaking at a lower pitch with the ability to emphasise just the right word along with body language that actually matched their tone.

Another tone is the ‘this is so exciting’ tone! This is the tone you use when you’ve got an amazing deal that simply can’t be missed! Remember Jordan Belfort went to jail for scamming people out of their money by selling stocks in companies that didn’t exist? When he came out of jail he was determined to use his ‘straight line selling’ method for good. He’s written books, spoken at events and taught people this method for people to make honest sales.

In general work places when there’s a bit of stress around, we can easily let contempt climb into our voice, facial expressions and body language. Contempt is one of the worst communication blocks because it implies a complete lack of respect for the person being spoken to. Sighing, eye-rolling, tsking sounds, and lip sneers are all contemptuous signs and have no place in an effective workplace.

Like many things it’s better to start training your voice early on in life, but it’s never too late. Here are a few simple exercises to develop your tone of voice


  • Yawning
  • Humming
  • Saying this sentence, drawing on the M sound – ‘many moaning men making music to the moon”. Get faster and faster as you say this.


For more exercises check out the Find Your Voice, Find Your Words guide on Amazon or any online course in the Say It Clearly school. All courses cover this aspect but if you don’t want to go through a whole course just for one section I’ve created a short course that covers the key elements of developing a clear voice that is easy to listen to. At $9.95, it’s not even two cups of coffee and you never know what the result of these exercises could bring to your life.


*Andrew Linn, a linguist at Sheffield University along with sound engineer Shannon Harris created a formula based on tone, intonation (emphasis and inflection), pace, pause (words per minute). They concluded “the ideal voice should utter no more than 164 words per minute and pause for 0.48 seconds between sentences. Sentences should fall rather than rise in intonation (inflection).

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