Long ago and far away, as a student at Valparaiso University, I took a theology course with the Dean of the Chapel. I don’t remember his name – we hardly ever used it. We just called him “The Voice of God.”

He seemed to have the voice that God would speak in – deep, rich, resonant, authoritative.

Fact is, most people put more trust in a person with a lower voice.  And that’s true for both men and women. An example of the research:  in 40 years’ worth of presidential elections, the candidate with the lower voice won the popular vote every time.

Let’s say you don’t have that big, booming voice. (For instance, maybe you’re a woman.) Can you be a charismatic speaker anyway?  Here are some steps to take.

Slow down already. For most of us, our pitch rises with our pace.  So take it easy … slow yourself down and let your voice be more settled.

Give it a rest.  People who pause while they’re speaking convey confidence and command. That might mean pausing for a beat at the end of a sentence … or even between phrases, where there would be a comma if you were writing instead of speaking.

And while you’re pausing, remember to breathe.  You’ll look – and feel! – more comfortable if you breathe all the way into your belly. Your voice will be more fully supported.  And don’t be a mouth-breather.  You’ll want to inhale and exhale through your nose, to avoid sounding tense and breathless. (It’s healthier anyway – your nose is designed to filter the air you take in.)

Put a period on it.   You hear people often? talking about something they’re supposed to know about? their business, for example? And saying everything as if it’s a question instead of a statement?

If you’re one of those people, it’s undermining your credibility. And you need to stop it. Now.

In American English, when the intonation goes up at the end of a sentence, listeners process what they’ve heard as a question.  Even if that wasn’t your intention.  When the intonation stays even, it’s a statement. And when it drops at the end of a sentence, we hear that as a command.

If you want to sound more confident and in-charge, lower your intonation at the end of a sentence. Or even at those mid-sentence pauses … just to let your strong presence sink in.

Let us hear you smile.  We don’t just see the smile on your face; it comes across in your voice too. And it conveys warmth and friendliness and likability. Some people find it helps to have a mirror near their desk, as a reminder to smile when they answer the phone.

The wrap-up. Whether you’re looking for buy-in on a project at work, more customers or clients, or a new job … you’ll have more influence when you incorporate these suggestions and speak with more charisma.