Voice trainer Jay Miller, encourages frontline reps to focus on voice quality for greater clarity and improved customer service.
One of the most common problems that he sees is rapid-fire speech.
“Some people feel that speaking quickly makes them sound knowledgeable and that it moves the conversation along quickly,” says Miller. “Unfortunately, the exact opposite is true. Speaking quickly can lead to mumbling, so you actually end up speaking less clearly and spending more time repeating yourself. Also says Miller, “when you talk fast, you tend to use a more narrow pitch range, so your speech becomes more flat and less expressive and therefore less engaging.”
Miller notes that many people are unaware of how quickly they are speaking. “Invariably [my clients] discover that what feels slow when they are speaking is not actually slow when they listen to a playback.”
So how can you slow down?
One simple technique is to open your mouth further when speaking. It actually takes longer to speak with an open mouth so it naturally slows you down. In addition, Miller recommends focusing on enunciating vowel sounds. It takes longer to clearly speak vowel sounds and will slow your speech. Finally, he says, “Take more time to breathe in between phrases.” The pauses will naturally slow your rate of speech.
More on speaking clearly plus articles on expressing empathy, and what to do when a customer is wrong appear in the May issue of Customer Communicator, the training newsletter for frontline reps.