Monday, 17 March 2014

Breaking the Selling Sound barrier -Vocal first Impressions

How many seconds does it take to make a first Impression ?

Time was we were told by the experts that we only had around seven seconds to make a good first impression.

This was based on visual first impression

 The moment that prospect sees you, their brain many calculations:

  • Are you someone to approach or to avoid?
  • Are you friend or foe?
  • Do you have status and authority?
  • Are you trustworthy, competent, likeable, confident?

These computations are made at breakneck speed — making major decisions about one another in the first seven seconds of meeting  (we were told.)

In business interactions, first impressions are undeniably crucial.

 While you can’t stop people from making snap decisions – the human brain is hard wired in this way as a evolutionary survival mechanism – you can understand how to make those decisions work in your advantage.

First impressions are more heavily influenced by nonverbal cues than verbal cues.

 In fact, studies have found that nonverbal cues have over four times the impact on the impression you make than anything you say. That is why professional selling needs to know about body language.


We may need to adjust our thinking on this issue of first impressions. Apparently we are assessed on our voice not in seven seconds but between 300-500 milliseconds.

We know that our voices can transmit subtle signals about our

  •  gender,
  •  age,
  • even body strength
  • and certain personality traits

 Phil McAleer working at the  Neurorecognition laboratory at the University of Glasgow and Princeton in the States  wondered whether we make an instant impression

including personality traits – including trustworthiness, dominance and attractiveness

The impression that our voices convey – even from an audio clip lasting just 390 milliseconds – appears to be down to several factors, for example, the pitch of a person's voice influenced how trustworthy they seemed.

'It is amazing that from such short bursts of speech you can get such a definite impression of a person.

'And more so that, irrespective of whether it is accurate, your impression is the same as what the other listeners get.

'It is perhaps also consistent that we are most attuned to recognising signs of trustworthiness and dominance, two traits that would have been central to our survival as we evolved.'

This research promises to help in the drive to improve the efficiency of voice-operated systems and learning aids, and to shed new light on the automatic judgements we make about strangers we don't meet face to face - from conductors making announcements on trains to business people making 'cold calls'

Trust is perceived differently in a voice depending on gender.

 "A guy who raises his pitch becomes more trustworthy," says Dr. McAleer. "Whereas a girl who glides from a high to a low pitch is seen as more trustworthy than a girl whose voice goes up at the end of the word."

Some aspects though, are less malleable. For example, the shape of the vocal tract influences perceived dominance.

The team hope that their work can be used to help create artificial voices for people who have lost their own due to a medical condition, as well as creating likeable and engaging voices for sat-navs, and other robotics.

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