Tone of voice is one of the most influential elements of communication. Have you noticed how people’s tone of voice can differ depending on the intended audience? Or, how they wish to be perceived. Even if you don’t know the language someone is speaking, one can figure out a lot simply by examining the tone of voice being used.
A study conducted by The Laboratory of Instrumental Analysis of Communication at the Autonomous University of Barcelona on tone of voice and perception had some interesting findings. Here are several examples:
- A deep tone of voice implies maturity and generates trust in other people. It’s also a common tone in advertisements.
- If someone’s tone of voice is extremely deep, it actually conveys a dark feeling.
- A firm, confident tone of voice makes you think the person talking is distinguished and important.
- Talking in a quiet tone of voice makes you think the person has major weaknesses or is awkward.
- People who have a really high tone of voice don’t convey much credibility.
Tone of voice can influence a person’s perception. For example, let’s say you are trying to sell a luxury car and you want the person looking at it to trust you. If the study results are accurate then talking to the interested party in a deeper tone would generate trust. This is because people perceive a deeper tone of voice (as opposed to a higher tone of voice) as someone with maturity. Maturity also equates to respect in most cultures.
Another example, I can personally attest to, is that in Russia, we understand that when a topic is sensitive, speaking in a softer voice will help evoke a sense of calm in people.
As a voice-over artist, my job is to provoke people into an action; by understanding not just the desired result, but also who the intended audience is, I am able to adjust my tone of voice to portray a role. In this role, I am either going to provoke people to trust or experience an emotion that moves them into action. My professional training in theatre has proved very helpful in voice-over artistry because although people cannot see my face, they can feel what I am feeling, get pulled in to whatever situation I am attempting to relay. The audience should be able to perceive the intended message, then want to know more or keep listening. The ear is sensitive, so what people hear needs to be believable, therefore the tone of voice used needs to be authentic as to give the intended and desired perception, regardless of whether it is an advertisement, eBook reading or film.