how to make my voice sound better on the phoneDo you want to be able to speak with confidence? Wish no more! I want to show you how to:

  • Sound more powerful on the phone
  • Increase your vocal presence and vocal power
  • Speak with confidence in meetings and presentations.

It is incredibly important to know how to speak with confidence on the phone, in presentations and during first impressions. Here’s how to speak with confidence in 5 simple steps: 

As we spend more and more time on the phone in virtual workplaces, we wanted to know some of the science behind our vocal power. Here’s what we found out:

#1. You Have a Vocal First Impression

When most of us think about having an important phone interview or virtual meeting, we usually prepare our answers and think about great things to talk about. But this fact blew my mind:

People judge how trustworthy you are within HALF A SECOND.

Research shows that your “Hello?” might matter more than prepared clever anecdotes or great answers. Your vocal first impression happens the moment you answer the phone and say, “Hello?” or “This is Vanessa.” Or…one time I called a big VIP and he answered, “Speak.” Yikes!

Here’s the problem: We are usually most nervous in the first few seconds. So our “hello?” comes out as breathy, high pitched or nervous sounding.

#2. People Can Hear Your Mood

In our human behavior research lab, Science of People, we wanted to test the power of our hello’s. In the first part of our experiment, we had participants record six different versions of their typical: “Hello?” We wanted to see if the very same person sounded different.

  1. Normal Hello  (This is the control)
  2. Happy Hello (Thinking of something that made them happy and holding a Happiness Microexpression)
  3. Sad Hello (Thinking of something that made them sad and holding a Sadness Microexpression)
  4. Angry Hello (Thinking of something that made them angry and holding an Angry Microexpression)
  5. Power Posing (While adopting a Power Pose)
  6. Normal Hello (One more control once they were warmed up)

The results were clear. The very same person sounded incredibly different! *You can see and hear real participants from our experiment and test your skills in the video above!*

This means people can hear your mood. If you are having a bad day and answer the phone irritable and with an irritated expression, it changes the sound and tone of your voice.

#3: How to Sound More Confident

The next part of our experiment is where things got even more interesting. We took the recordings and asked readers like you to rate them on likability. We had each participant play a clip and then choose from three answers:

how to sound confident over the phone

Can you guess which hello was rated as the most likable?

  • Happy Hello  
  • Sad Hello  
  • Angry Hello  
  • Power Posing
  • The Normal Hello  

We found distinct patterns among the clips. There was a clear winner for likability. The most likable voice was the Happy Hello! We actually were surprised by this — we guessed the Power Posing hello would do best. Boy, were we wrong! Even the participant’s normal hello did better than the power posing hello.

Anger rated the absolute worst — not surprising.

If you are having a bad day, just got a bad email while waiting on hold, or are rushing around in traffic while making calls, this irritability can translate into your voice and make you extremely unlikable.

#4: My Favorite Voice Exercise

If you want to sound like a leader, you have to speak with your maximum resonance point. This is where your voice is most relaxed and portrays confidence. Here is my favorite vocal exercise to find your maximum resonance point:

Here is a link to a keyboard if you want to play around with your notes.

#5: Your Happiness & Your Voice Are Connected

I have one final tip for you, and it is to find something to smile about. Genuine happiness is better than a fake smile any day.

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Santa Barbara found that we listen to our own voices to know how we’re feeling. The cues we take in from our tone, pitch and other voice characteristics help our brains understand and process our emotional states.

Participants in the study were instructed to speak into a microphone that recorded their voices. Behind the scenes, the researchers manipulated the participants’ voices in real-time to make them sound happier, sad or with no change, and fed that audio recording back to them through headphones (the participants were unaware that their voices were being changed).

Listening to their changed voices, either happy or sad, actually induced that emotion in the participants.

These results suggest that we listen to our voices to know how we’re feeling.

This amazed the researchers, as this study yielded the first official evidence of “direct feedback effects on emotional experience in the auditory domain.” And these groundbreaking findings are only going to get better and more interesting as more researchers delve into this domain.

I’m Happy

So, next time you’re feeling funky, anxious or angry, give yourself a happy little pep talk using a happy little voice tone — and try smiling while you’re at it! You’d be surprised at how fast you can pick up your mood and change your emotional state by this simple trick.

Some ideas to find something to smile about:

  • Don’t check email right before getting on a call or while waiting on hold. You are bound to see something you don’t like. This risks a possible angry expression or response.
  • Pull up the person’s LinkedIn profile picture while you speak with them. Sometimes we have trouble connecting over the phone. If you simulate the feelings of being in person, you are more likely to smile more and use more hand gestures. This warms up your voice.
  • Never, ever answer the phone in a bad mood. Remember, your emotions are contagious:

Bonus: 10 Successful Phone Strategies

If you want some more verbal exercises, be sure to check out our post on 10 Successful Phone Strategies!

Want more on vocal power?

To your vocal success,


About Vanessa Van Edwards

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Lead Investigator, Science of People

I'm the author of the national bestselling book Captivate, creator of People School, and behavioral investigator.

I’ve always wanted to know how people work, and that’s what Science of People is about. What drives our behavior? Why do people act the way they do? And most importantly, can you predict and change behavior to be more successful? I think the answer is yes. More about Vanessa.

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