Research shows that consistency in tone is extremely persuasive. People who don’t get shaken up and maintain a smooth approach have a natural advantage.
Stuttering, long pauses, pitch of the voice going up and down… none of these inspire confidence. Avoid emotional variability in how you carry yourself when presenting. A narrow tonal range conveys a high degree of control and certainty.
…the consistency of one’s emphasis and timing is an honest signal of a focused and smoothly functioning mind.
When we looked at salary negotiations with the sociometer, we found these same patterns. That is, the more consistent people were in their pattern of emphasis, the better they did in the salary negotiation. This was true for both the boss and the new employee-showing variability weakens your negotiation stance. We found the same to be true for business executives pitching business plans. The more consistent they were in emphasis and rhythm while giving their pitch, the more convincing they were to others. That was not the only benefit; people with greater consistency were also perceived as having better ideas and a better presentation style.
That said, this is not the best approach for all scenarios.
If the spotlight is not on you and you need to be open to the ideas of others, it can backfire. In those situations a softer, more open attitude wins the day. Here, a less consistent, less focused approach shows you are open to the ideas of others.
Consistent emphasis, however, is not always a good thing. It indicates focus and determination, but that is the opposite of what you want to signal when you are in the role of the listener and helper. In these situations, you want to be open to the concerns and ideas of others. In handling sales inquiries from customers where the potential customers are already interested enough to call an agent, for example, a soft sell attitude of helpful listening is better than a hard sell pitch. In fact, when we studied sales inquiries to a major retail chain, we found that variability in emphasis together with the amount of listening time predicted a successful sales call with extremely high accuracy.
And so variability in emphasis and pace appears to be an honest signal that you are open to the contributions of others, perhaps because it is the opposite of the consistent emphasis that signals that you have made up your mind. Even at a fine level of interaction, variability seems to signal an openness to input from other people. Indeed, when we looked at thousands of hours of recorded conversations, we found that the simple signal of variable emphasis, together with the length of time you had already spoken, accurately predicted places where other people would jump into the conversation.
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