Your Tone of Voice Can Boost or Bruise Your Personal Brand
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
The following is the second article in the series, "Living Your Personal Brand," in which marketing master Jim Joseph discusses practical ways to build your brand daily and use it to advance your personal and professional lives.
There’s been a lot written and discussed about brands finding their “voice” -- creating their own unique way of communicating with their customers. This of course applies to personal branding as well. As a personal brand, you also need to find you own “voice” for how you communicate with those around you, in written and verbal form.
I’d like to tackle a slightly different angle on the topic this time around though. While finding your voice is a critical component to building your personal brand, there’s another element to it that is just as critical.
You also need to determine your “tone” of voice as well.
How you use your voice is just as important as the voice itself. Your tone of voice is a key determinant in how others perceive you, just as important as the actual words you use, especially when it comes to building your personal brand. Communicating passionately, quietly or angrily can completely impact how people interpret you. Having that same consistent tone over time is what will help build your personal brand.
Now you may think that this goes without saying, it’s that obvious. But the truth is that many people don’t think through the long-term impact of their tone of voice, and how it determines how people perceive your “brand.” When you’re consistently passionate, quiet or angry, those around you come to expect that from you, which will determine how they respond.
Your tone of voice will either pull people in or scare them away. How you apply that tone of voice in everyday situations builds your personal brand longer term.
You’ve heard the term “inside voice” as it applies to teaching children how to self-monitor the loudness of their voices. This notion actually applies to tone of voice for adults as well. You are likely to have different aspects of your tone whether you are talking to one person, a few people or presenting to a room full of people. You may also alter your tone of voice with friends, family or work colleagues. While the need to vary your tone is real, you should still maintain a consistent thread throughout your interactions with all the people in your life.
Keep in mind as well that tone of voice is both verbal and nonverbal. It’s perhaps easier to understand in the verbal form, but nonverbal tone of voice is also a big part of your personal brand.
Physical tone is often a greater predictor of how you feel than the words you choose -- body language, hand gestures, facial expressions often say more than your words themselves. They are a big part of your tone.
Related: 7 Power Tools of Persuasion
Of course, written communication now dominates our day-to-day interactions, so we have to be conscious of our tone of voice in social media, email and texting as well.
Watch the snark and sarcasm too, unless you want that to be your personal brand.
And then, off course, there’s the dramatic “f-bomb.”
If there was ever a word that carried a tone, it’s this one! If you are going to use it, do so wisely.
It’s one of those words that can have a funny, angry, sarcastic or excited meaning depending on the tone you use. Personally, I drop it sparingly and use it merely as an exclamation point to show emphasis. I know many people, though, who use it far too often. It has become a defining part of their tone of voice.
It’s a bit of a turn off, and likely not a goal of your personal brand.
So tone up your voice, and you will be more likely to accomplish your personal-branding goals.