Read This First...I recently heard some startling information about first impressions. If you don’t make a favorable one within the first twelve seconds, you must make seven subsequent positive impressions to undo the damage done the first time around.But there’s a myth out there about first impressions. It goes something like this. To succeed in life, all you need is a shiny image and the right technique. Get good and shiny enough, master all the details and doors that were previously shut will magically open; men and women will kiss your feet and you’ll be able to convince anyone to do your bidding.I would like to dispel this myth right now. When someone gives a memorable talk, we don’t remember the speaker because of the particulars of their speech- their hand gestures, vocal inflection or perfect hair. We remember them because of the essence of their talk and because they touched something deep and meaningful within our soul.Yes, this is practical handbook, a compendium of voice mastery techniques. But these techniques, the particulars of speaking, will fall short of giving you the results you want if you speak without being grounded in positive intention.I believe that deep within us all is an essence that is good, beautiful and true. Align yourself with this essence and your words become powerful indeed. Neglect this important first step and your presentation will be just another talk. Pretty to listen to maybe, but easily forgotten and sorely lacking in motivational power.So what does it mean to speak with good intention in alignment with your essence? It can be as simple as the desire to share information, clarify a process, enlighten, inform or entertain. Or it can be as lofty as a desire to denounce an injustice or bring peace and freedom to the world.Intention is potent force. It’s the X-Factor, the charisma, the “special sauce” behind the speech. When you are aligned with a positive intention, your message is memorable and can even have the potential to make history. Think JFK, Winston Churchill and Dr. Martin Luther King. And think you at your most inspired.People are incredibly adept at capturing our intention whenever they size us up. Psychologists tell us that first impressions are correct 67% of the time. But even if you manage to fool some of the people some of the time, in the end, your intention will ultimately lift you to the top or plunge you into ruin (Hitler, cult leader Jim Jones).Ultimately, intentions and technique work hand in hand in everything we do. A lawyer with bad intentions and great technique may help a guilty psychopath walk free. A doctor with good intentions and no technique might have a great bedside manner but kill the patient. And a speaker with good intentions but no technique—someone, for example, who is difficult to understand—may end up putting the audience to sleep.
Susan Berkley (Author)
Susan Berkley is a voice-over artist, best known as one of the voices who say "Thank you for using AT&T." She hosts a weekly radio show and is a former cast member of the Howard Stern Show. She is CEO of the Great Voice Company and has been featured in Business Week, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. She lives in Tappan, New York.