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Voice just part of a winning package

Nov 7th, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News, News

BARACK Obama’s voice has wooed people all over the world but, according to experts, a mediocre voice will suffice in politics.

Neither Helen Clark nor John Key is considered to have spectacular voices, but this hasn’t hindered their political careers.

“They both have very broad New Zealand accents,” says communications expert Claire Robinson. “But I don’t know that that’s any different from most New Zealanders, so I don’t think people take it into a great deal of account.

“Their accents and their voices become part of what we understand to be their character,” says Ms Robinson, head of the Institute of Communication Design at Massey University.

When it comes to being an accomplished speaker, voice is just one element.

“It’s the whole combination of the choice of words, the manner of delivery, the confidence and the tone that all comes together to make a fabulous performance,” she says. 

Voice coach David England says the job of a politician is to be listened to, not simply heard, and charisma and enthusiasm go a long way.

“Sometimes [John Key’s] voice is too high, but he compensates for that by being enthusiastic and vital,” he says.

“[Winston Peters is] a very charismatic politician, but he does run a lot of the words together and it’s hard to hear him – especially when he’s getting excited or angry.”

However, Mr England says an impressive or distinctive voice can be very helpful, particularly when a politician is unknown.

“For the voice itself, authority is the big positive. The deeper the voice, the more authority and conviction it conveys,” he says.

He says US president-elect Barack Obama has everything a good speaker needs: “He’s got everything, that boy. A marvellous voice, [and] he speaks clearly, with authority, with expression, vitality and involvement.”

If a leader is a particularly good speaker, no matter how grotesque the message, he or she will be listened to.

“Adolf Hitler is probably regarded as the greatest speaker of the 20th Century.  It doesn’t matter if you agree with what the person’s saying, if it is presented extremely well, you can’t ignore that person,” says Mr England.

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  1. […] reason I lost concentration was because of his delivery. How important is voice in politics? The Prime Minister’s speaking style has come under attack a lot in class discussions. I was […]

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