If you're ready for people to take you more seriously, try out some of these ways to sound more professional. We all have those little bad habits that make us sound too casual when we need to make a great impression instead. For instance, potential employers often listen more to how you speak and present yourself than any answers you give to questions. Practice some of these ways to sound more professional in a mirror and you'll be amazed at the difference.
1. Speak in a Deeper Register
I can't stand it when I'm talking to someone and it sounds like they're talking to an infant instead of a grown woman. For some reason, women sometimes default to that annoying high-pitched baby voice when they get frustrated, excited or even angry. No one will take you seriously if you sound like that. One of the easiest ways to sound more professional is to speak in deeper tones. You don't have to sound like a guy, but deepen the voice a bit and people will take notice.
2. Speak Clearly
Sometimes I get really excited and all my words come out in a big clump. If you know me well, it's pretty easy to translate. If I'm holding a meeting, everyone just looks confused. If you're feeling nervous or excited, take a deep breath and remind yourself to speak clearly. Try speaking slightly slower than normal to be certain you enunciate each word. Practice this often and it'll become second nature.
3. Make Every Word Count
Listen to a few teenage girls talk about their latest crush. “He's like so, like totally amazing and um, I like think he's the hottest thing ever, ya know.” Try speaking like this in the workplace and suddenly, you're just the ditzy girl, not a highly professional business woman. Cut out unnecessary filler words. The teens could have easily said, “He's amazing and hot.” Record yourself and pay attention to what words you tend to fill in with and cut them out.
4. Everything Isn't a Question
How are you supposed to sound composed and confident if everything you say sounds like a question? Using that upward tone at the end of each sentence makes you sound extremely uncertain. Speak with confidence and make statements. Only make a sentence sound like a question if it actually is. If you're not sure if you're guilty of this one, ask a friend to listen to you.
5. Speak up
While I've never been guilty of speaking quietly, many of my friends have naturally quiet voices. When they try to speak authoritatively, no one actually listens. Their voices don't carry and no one really sees what they have to say as important. When you're in a professional environment, speak up a little. People shouldn't have to constantly ask you to repeat yourself. Speak up and you'll see a major difference in how people listen.
6. Don't Talk down
Sometimes people go overboard when trying to sound professional. Instead of talking to people, they talk down to them. This isn't professional. It just makes you sound snobby and will likely cause your employees or managers to lose respect for you. Professional doesn't mean you can't be friendly. Talk to people as if they're your equals and you'll not only sound more professional, but have an easier time gaining their respect.
7. Know What You Want to Say
If you have problems talking in public or over the phone, make an outline of what you want to say. While this won't work with everyday situations, it's perfect if you have to make speeches or talk on the phone often. Taking the time to prepare helps you avoid filler words, awkward silences and nervous tones. By regularly preparing yourself, you'll also become more confident on the fly and sound more professional in all your encounters.
The key to sounding more professional lies in paying attention to how you speak. I asked my friends and family to help me determine what my faults were. I spent quite a bit of time practicing in the mirror and now I feel much more confident when I speak to new clients. What methods do you use to help yourself sound more professional?