Speaking in Monotone – How To Be More Expressive in Your Delivery
Through my many years teaching voice improvement and presentation skills, I have found some interesting correlations between personality types and the degree of expressiveness heard and seen in people.
While I am about to be most 'politically incorrect,' those who tend to be more expressive in speaking also tend to be emotionally-subjective or emotionally-objective based on the Human Dynamics model. In contrast, those who lack expression in speaking are more often mentally-centered or physically-centered individuals.
If we boil this down and generalize even more, I find that accountants, research scientists, engineers, and athletes – to name a few – often have difficulty allowing their emotions to be heard or to be seen.
In saying this, I must further add that it does not mean that all accountants, all scientists, and all athletes are boring! Remember, I am generalizing.
In working with these types of individuals, I usually discover that there is one thing in their lives that can bring about an emotional response.
A good example is my own accountant. A man who I've known since childhood and who has been my accountant for the last 10 years, Neal shows little, if any, expression in speaking. We've talked about our families; we've talked about my business; we've talked about my husband's business. Through our meetings, he is very low-keyed; very even in his responses. A few years ago, Neal became a grandfather. When you ask about his granddaughter, his face suddenly lights up: he smiles broadly; he speaks with a great deal of feeling about this little girl; he gushes with emotion. It is the only time I get any expression from this man.
In another scenario, many years ago I worked with a gentleman who showed absolutely no emotion in speaking. When I asked him to say Come here in four different manners of expression; ie, commanding, illuminated, angry, and seductive , he repeated those words with no differentiation between a command, delight, or anger. However, his tone changed considering when he said those two words seductively, displaying a surprising amount of emotion! (Incidentally, I had been forewarned that this man was a womanizer.)
So, in working with the 'mentals' or the 'physicals', I look for their one great interest or hobby in life and start at that point. If they can show some emotion in talking about their passion, I can then begin to move them into other topics, allowing for that expression to be.
The problem for many of these people, however, is that they think that they will not sound natural if they allow for emotion in discussing other subjects. What they fail to realize is that speaking in a monotone is not natural where speaking speaking with life, with color, with expression, is.
If you find you have difficulty allowing your emotion to come through, stand in front of a mirror and say, Come here in those four tones. Watch your face as you say it. (Make sure you are alone and do not be afraid to 'let your hair down' so to speak.) You may feel like you are acting. So be it. The benefits of speaking with expression far outweigh your inhibition to allow yourself some emotion.
If you want a better test, video-record yourself saying those two words in those four manners with no expression. Be boring on purpose. Then tape yourself again, allowing for expression. Act, if need be. Watch the two records. Which one looked and sounded normal and natural? I am willing to bet that the second recording will win the prize!