Sound is Touch at a Distance

Posted on Monday, July 14, 2014

I heard that once, on the radio, and it stuck. It's so true -- We don’t just hear sound, we feel it. Sound doesn't just trickle into our ears, it goes straight to our guts -- and that visceral reaction communicates a myriad of messages, whether we mean it to or not.  

Picture yourself stuck in traffic, loud music blaring from the car next to you. Or sipping coffee at a sidewalk café, when a pod of motorcyclists roar past. Can you feel your mood immediately change? Are you tense, angry, and distracted? Now imagine the last time you heard a child giggle, or the soothing tones of your favorite music, or the wind in the trees. How did those sounds affect you, emotionally and physically?  

The tone of your voice can stimulate these same physical responses in your listeners.Tone communicates the true intention behind the message. It reveals how you really feel, whether or not you say it with words. We all know when we ask someone a question and their words don’t match their tone of voice, we believe the tone. We see past the words to the truth revealed in the sound itself.

Getting clear about your own intention is a way to control your delivery -- and enhance your impact. If you run on auto-pilot and just say the words without any clear connection to them, you're likely to appear nervous, annoyed, or distracted. Bottom line -- your audience will sense that they're not important to you.

If you want your audience to feel your passion, to stay engaged, and give it back to you, clear intentions are key. Identify and clarify your own intentions. Identify and clarify the response you want from your listeners,  and invest in them your full attention. Intention grounds you in the moment and connects you to your partner in the conversation -- namely, your audience.

Maya Angelou said: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If you want to make an unforgettable impression on your audience, remember -- it's not just about the words, it's about the delivery. Make music, and you'll reach them.