During a meeting, it is not what you say, but how you say it that “really” matters.

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How you say something has more meaning than what is actually said, and can even contradict the spoken words. Like lyrics to music, words without tone (music) cannot really be felt. In your business meetings, your goal should be to use the tone of someone that is competent and credible within his or her industry. Even for entry-level positions you must sound like you have passion to move forward within an organization.

For example, the sentence “He was a great boss.” can be said in a sarcastic “tone” or in a complimentary “tone”, each affecting the real meaning of the statement. During a meeting, a pleasant and confident tone suggests professionalism, while sarcastic or arrogant tones suggest immaturity. Managing your “voice qualities” can also help in creating a professional tone, with inflections having the most impact on the tone of a message.

Inflections give energy and meaning to words, affecting the total message. You would read a sentence differently if it ended with a period (.) versus an explanation point (!) or a question mark (?). You can even affect each word directly.

Exercise 2

Read the following statement without any energy, in a monotone voice: “I really like the way you present your marketing materials.” Now read the following sentence with a little punch where the word is italicized: “I like the way you present your marketing materials.” Placing emphasis on the word “present” suggests that you appreciate the presentation, while saying, “I really like the way you present your marketing materials.” suggests that the marketing materials are the highlight.

HINT:  When preparing for a presentation, find ways to emphasize and give energy to your words.

Enunciation is the lost art of the spoken word. We have become so relaxed in our speech, mainly because it does not have to be as formal as it did many years ago; however, clearly pronouncing the words you choose can positively distinguish you as a professional. Identifying and practicing words that you have difficulty with will certainly improve this element.

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