What To Do When You Don’t Like The Sound Of Your Speaking Voice

Do you remember the first time you heard yourself on tape, on an answering machine or voice mail? You may have been shocked and thought: “Do I really sound like THAT?”

As you start to become aware of your voice you may feel it is:

– “Letting you down badly”
– “Getting worse”
– “Embarrassing you” and so on.

Actually, these reactions are very common. Here’s why.

We tend to hold an idealized image of ourselves. But when something– like a video camera or tape recorder– shows us we are not as we thought, we flip to the opposite extreme and put ourselves down with a vengeance.

Learning or improving a skill requires that we first accept seeing ourselves objectively in order to grow or change. Yet many people find it hard to be objective and realistic, especially when it comes to something as personal as the sound of their own voice.

BE CAREFUL! While your voice may need improving, it’s probably not as bad as you think. And the things you think are problems may not be problems at all.

Take nasality, for instance.

In my workshops and seminars, many people complain they sound nasal. Yet no one else in the room agrees with their self-assessment. Their voice sounds nasal to them because they are hearing it from inside their head where it is distorted by the bones of their skull.

Once they become aware of this phenomenon and realize they don’t sound as bad as they thought, they feel less inhibited and communication becomes easier and more fun.

In general, we are neither as wonderful as we think nor as terrible as we imagine. In voice development and in life, you need the objective and supportive feedback of others. This feedback will keep you from becoming depressed about imagined shortcomings that don’t exist, and keep you from making a fool of yourself because you are overly confident about a quality or skill-set that still needs work.

So if you are embarking on a voice improvement plan and are feeling a little disappointed, take heart! It’s probably a good sign. Its shows you are at least open to looking at and working with your weak points. And this is something the clueless and incompetent know-it-all will never do.

Sony vs. Olympus: Digital Voice Recorders

Digital voice recorders have become increasingly popular over the last few years, as they offer a relatively cheap and reliable alternative to older cassette voice recorders. Digital voice recorders use memory – much like the memory used in your personal pc – to record sound, rather than tape cassettes. Newer recorders tend to have very large memory capacities, despite their small size.

Though there are several brands of digital voice recorders to choose from, two stand out as the most popular at this time: Sony and Olympus. Here we attempt to compare two recording devices, one from each company. Hopefully this information will be helpful in deciding which recorder is more suitable for your needs.

Olympus DM-20 Digital Voice Recorder

The DM-20 is a popular new model by Olympus. It has received high marks in the past for it’s large memory capacity (128MB Built-in flash) that provides about 45 hours of voice recording time. In addition, the device is capable of holding 120 minutes of high quality mp3 music. The recorder can hook up to both a mac or pc, so there isn’t much of a compatibility issue in uploading/ downloading songs or voice recordings. Physically, the device is really quite sharp (picture below), and is relatively light – 3 oz. This is good news for anyone who travels; it can be easily placed in a pocket or hand bag. The device also has some nice features that make it even more attractive, such as reminder alarms (work much like your alarm clock), different play and play-back modes, files may be saved in WMA or DSS format, and an external microphone. The main draw back to the device is the lack of an on/ off switch – something that should certainly be there. You are forced to hold down the hold button for some time before the device will shut down. Other than this, however, the device is well worth your attention. It currently sells for $180 – $270 dollars, so shop around.

Olympus DM-20 Digital Voice Recorder

Sony’s answer to the DM-20 is the ICD-MS515 memory stick digital voice recorder. This device uses removable Memory Stick Media that is very similar to the smart flash cards used in digital cameras and other devices. The ICD-MS515 comes with a relatively small 8mb memory stick that holds about 170 minutes of recording. This is much smaller than the capacity of the DM-20, but it is possible to simply upgrade to larger memory sticks. Some of the nice features of this device are the built-in microphone, the ability to work with Voice To Print Software (allows the conversion of voice recording to text), usb connectivity, and a voice e-mail system (allowing you to send audible voice mail). The device is also very light, weighing slightly less than 3 oz. It’s proportions are very similar to that of the Olympus DM-20. Besides the low memory capacity (which can be upgraded at an additional cost), this a very solid and competitive device. It currently sells for around $200.

How to Create a “Hela’uva” Subject Line (and Get Your E-Mails Opened)

The better you are at composing intriguing e-mails the better your tele-sales results.

E-mail and voice follow up (either live or voice mail) go to together in today’s marketplace like peas and carrots. However, this supposes that your e-mail is intriguing enough to get noticed and opened.

Therein lies the challenge. The majority of your clients and prospects are swamped with e-mail messages. To cope, they tend to devote no more that 2-4 seconds scanning your subject line. If that line does not grab them by the collar and tug their interest, the e-mail gets put aside and ignored, or gets deleted and forgotten.

So, in a nutshell, what you want is a ‘hele’uva subject line that screams to the recipient “Look at me! Open me! Now.”

Here’s how you do it.

Step #1: Use their First Name

When you insert the client’s first name in the subject line, they see it and pause. Your written name is not unlike your spoken name: it gets attention. When you use a person’s name in the conversation, they tend to listen very carefully to the next 12-15 words. No surprises here. People have been conditioned to respond to the internal radar of their name.

The same applies to a written name (especially the first name). It draws the eye like a powerful magnet to the remaining words in the sentence or phrase. This too is human nature. The name creates an itch that needs to be scratched.

Step #2: Use a Number in the Subject Line

The second step to creating a hela’uva subject line is to insert a numeric value.

There is nothing particularly mysterious about this approach except that it cleverly plays on human nature; on the average person’s sense of curiosity and wonder. By using a numeric within the subject line you get your clients intrigued. They wonder what the “10 ways” are or what are the “7 possible courses” or what are the “3 things” they must consider. Most recipients like to take a quick peek and et voila, the message is opened.

Subject Line Examples

The challenge for you is to create something that you can itemize. Here are some examples.

Subject: Sarah, Special Report: 10 Ways to Get Your Calls Returned

Subject: Eric, 5 Possible Course Selections for Accreditation

Subject: Dr. Anselmo, The 7 Ways to Increase Patient Traffic

Subject: Kirsten, 2 Quick Items

Subject: Steve, 3 Things to Consider

Subject: JP: 7 Elements that Impact Your Employees Effectiveness

Subject: Gina, Important – 1 Quick Question

Subject: Rachel, The Top 10 Things Every Single Mom Should Know About Investing

Subject: Mark, The 5 Reasons Why You Don’t Sell as Much as You Could (or Should)

Tip: Odd numbers seem to work better at arousing curiosity compared to even numbers. That doesn’t mean you can’t use an even number but where possible look for that edge. Incidentally, “Top 10s” (an even number) are always great attention grabbers.

Summary

These tips are not huge, earth shattering epiphanies that will sky rocket your sales results but they will help! They are small things but in sales, small things can give you an edge. These subject line examples are a bit unusual from most; they’re distinctive. And because they are you improve your chances of the client opening them and taking positive action. Make your next subject line a hela ‘uva subject line.

Discover How To Leverage Voice Mail To Make More Sales

Productivity and cost efficiency are key drivers for corporations adopting new technologies. While it is hardly new and few can dispute its overall benefit, voice mail is one technology that has greatly reduced the productivity of Business-to-Business sales people and increased cost for their employers. This, however can be fixed. Here’s how.

No question that trying to engage with a live prospect has become increasingly challenging as voice mail has become ubiquitous. Contrary to what most reps think it is not always a case of people “hiding behind voice mail”, most people are truly busy and use voice mail to cope. However, consistently successful reps always leave voice mail, and as a result get more appointments and generate more sales and revenues There are a couple of dynamics at play. A lot of reps say “I never get a call back”; “No one ever returns voice mails”. Not true, I get return calls from five out of ten messages I leave.

More importantly you also benefit from messages left even when they don’t call back. Studies show it can take anywhere from four to seven approaches before someone responds to or consider something new, i.e. your product/service. Many reps will call numerous times, not leave a message hoping they will eventually get the person live; most will give up after three attempts at reaching someone, and move on. There is a difference between being persistent in getting on a prospect’s radar, and pestering; most reps give up too soon. When you do not leave a message, then you may have tried three or even four times, but as far as the prospect is concerned you’re at zero; you didn’t leave a message, no “calling card” telling them you want to talk to them.

Some reps waste time dialing someone dozens of times, not leaving a message. When they finally connect they let the built-up frustration out on the prospect, as though it was his fault that they called and called and called, instead of leaving a message and having them call back, while making use of the wait time to reach out to more prospects. Another thing to consider is that a vast majority of reps, who do not leave messages, still listen to the entire outbound message on the voice mail, so why not take a few more seconds and leave a message. It’s a no brainer. On the one hand, even if they don’t call back (within 72 hours), you are on the prospects radar (yes initially at the fringe but better placed than the those who don’t leave messages).

On the other hand, you have a 50-50 shot of getting a call back, good odds, and certainly many more conversation leading to more appointments. The technique for getting a call back is very simple. The human mind hates a mystery, given the opportunity to erase a question mark most people will do it. Most messages ask you to leave “a detailed message”, because they want to be able to full evaluate and prioritize who and what they call back. Your goal is to be contrarian and minimalist. Create a need for them to call back if they want to close off or resolve the issue. Using third party references and brevity is the key. Consider using a message like the one below. Assume ABC is a company you currently do or have done business with that the contact will recognize, (competitor, supplier, customer, but one that you are or have dealt with).

“Hi Ms. Smith. This is Paul Drake from Safety Software. You can reach me at 416-555-1212, and I’m calling you with reference to ABC Company.”
Keep the messages short!

If you leave a message like the one above, elicits curiosity and leverage the work you are doing with ABC Company to schedule an appointment with your target. As mentioned above, I get five return calls for every ten messages left. That is five more conversations than those who don’t leave messages, which means more appointments and more sales.

Small Business Voice Mail With Auto Attendant

A hosted Private Branch Exchange (PBX) telephone system provides your business with all the features of an expensive premise based PBX system, at lesser costs. Hosted PBX system is especially useful for small businesses as it features voicemail with auto attendant feature, among its many other advantages. Hosted PBX system enables small businesses to create a professional business image among potential customers.

Voicemail and auto attendant are two major features of a hosted PBX system. Small business voicemail with the auto attendant feature avoids the need for a receptionist and manages all incoming calls effectively. All incoming calls will be effectively attended and routed professionally so that, the callers will be under the impression that they are dealing with a big, flourishing firm. The auto attendant in hosted PBX offers comprehensive voice mail message delivery options and advanced call forwarding. With auto attendant, callers can be greeted with a professional sounding greeting message followed by a menu of options for the callers to choose from.

The greeting message can be customized and even varied on different days and separate greeting messages can be used for working hours and non-working hours. Other features that the auto attendant provides include call screening, dial by name, dial by extension, voice mail forwarding, 1-4 digit extension numbering, music on hold, follow-me call forwarding and group dialing. It also receives all the incoming faxes, converts them into PDF formats and sends them to the email inbox.

Hosted PBX telephone systems are integrated with VOIP technology and provide excellent voicemail features. If any call remains unattended, the caller will be automatically forwarded to the voicemail. Each employee can be provided with a unique voice mail box. New arrivals on the voice mail boxes can be notified by emails or text messages on cell phones. With hosted PBX system, you can enjoy outstanding communication services without any change in your existing infrastructure.

Voice Mail Retrieval – Don’t Rely on Your Device for Safe Storage

Improvements in technology are supposed to simplify the way we do business in our day to day activities. Digital technology that allows us to record voice and data such as phone conversations and missed calls has been a great convenience. But in some ways technology has also been a step backward.

The 80’s may seem a bit like the dark ages when it comes to cell phones, voice mail, recorded music and movies but it was also a period when it was simpler to make copies of your phone messages, movies, and even set up your TV/VCR system. (At least now the restrictions on music downloads have mostly been lifted.) Back then there was one type of broadcast, one or two types of video recorders, and one type of TV. Connecting cables to your TV and VCR was pretty much the same everywhere. If you had two VCRs it was easy to copy a movie to a second tape, albeit at a lesser quality than is available today. You could take a tape out of the answering machine or VCR and never lose the place where you left off – even if you take the tape to a different machine or wait an entire year to continue listening/viewing.

Now there are answering machines and Digital Video Recorders with no removable storage, copy restrictions, and so many different file formats – many of which are somewhat obscure or proprietary and only work with one or a few brands or types of equipment. It’s often a complicated process figuring out what you need and how to accomplish it. And I love it when I put in a DVD and am forced to watch not only the FBI warnings and other messages, but sometimes even advertisements.

And although I prefer DVD to VHS I hate recording TV shows to DVD. It has too often been a pain in the butt. Sometimes I don’t mind recording to the DVR (which is quite easy) that the cable company provided but other times I want a more permanent recording I can watch on a variety of TVs or keep for an indefinite amount of time. That’s why nowadays you can find a Digital VHS recorder in my home – yes they do exist. But now I’m just ranting and really digressing.

The point is – newer advanced technology has often made it more difficult to make copies of recordings for permanent storage or for any other reason.

When is Voice Mail & Voice Message Retrieval Necessary?
Any time you have a message or recording that’s important to you, you should invest in having that voice message saved in a safer, more permanent format. It could be for sentimental, business, legal, or other purposes. Copying the message will also free up space on you answering machine or voice mailbox.

Most services or cell carriers currently don’t offer a way for you to download a recorded message. If a message is important you usually have to save and resave it every month or so to prevent it from being deleted by the system. Using a voice mail transfer service will eliminate that need.

Why Save Voice Mail Messages?
In many cases, it’s a personal message that has some sentimental value. Family members that don’t see each other or get a chance to speak often can save messages and revisit them without having to navigate cumbersome voice mail menus or waste storage space on a digital answering machine. This type of service can also be used for:

  • Saving a cute message from a grandchild, or a child that’s away at a camp or retreat
  • Holding onto messages from a loved one who’s deceased
  • Leaving yourself important messages on your voice mail that you’d like quick access to.
  • Saving messages that are harassing or threatening to you – often saved for legal purposes

Whatever the type of message that’s been saved, it’s beneficial to have a hard copy or backup recording that’s easily accessed. As we all know, technology has a way of failing when we need it most. Limiting yourself to only the original copy of anything can be bad news – especially where digitally stored data is concerned. Most of us have had hard drives crash, flash drives lost, CDs damaged, voice mail services discontinued or some other cause of lost information.

The Downside of Digitally Recording a Phone Conversation
Some of us are pen and paper people and we can jot notes for hours while multi-tasking and handling important phone calls. Others need to rely on the digital recording features offered by new model phones – specifically to clearly record both sides of a conversation. Features like this are especially helpful for conference or other business related calls where the bulk of the message is extremely important, sensitive, etc.

The problem with many of these systems is that not all types offer the ability to easily move or transfer the digitally recorded information to another medium. Like voice mail systems where the information and conversation is stored digitally, you’ll need to manually move or record the data in another format.

Maintaining Quality during the Duplication Process
Many people still use answering machines in their home which often don’t use tape or removable memory cards. Many of these answering machines have messages on them that are months and even years old because the owner doesn’t have a way to make a quality copy.

If you have a device like a digital recorder, it’s possible to transfer the data on your own by playing back the information and recording it as it plays back. The issue with using this method of recording is the serious loss of quality as it’s played through a speaker and recorded through a microphone.

A voice mail transfer service may also have the ability to actually improve the sound quality. Some can apply audio enhancement and noise reduction techniques to the recording to improve the audio quality. A few companies can even provide transcripts or translations if necessary.

Professional equipment, experience in transferring voice messages, and direct recording from one medium to another can ensure that the quality of the message remains intact. When it comes to transferring sentimental or sensitive voice messages, it’s often best to use a professional voice message retrieval service.

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Discover How To Leverage Voice Mail To Make More Sales

Productivity and cost efficiency are key drivers for corporations adopting new technologies. While it is hardly new and few can dispute its overall benefit, voice mail is one technology that has greatly reduced the productivity of Business-to-Business sales people and increased cost for their employers. This, however can be fixed. Here’s how.

No question that trying to engage with a live prospect has become increasingly challenging as voice mail has become ubiquitous. Contrary to what most reps think it is not always a case of people “hiding behind voice mail”, most people are truly busy and use voice mail to cope. However, consistently successful reps always leave voice mail, and as a result get more appointments and generate more sales and revenues There are a couple of dynamics at play. A lot of reps say “I never get a call back”; “No one ever returns voice mails”. Not true, I get return calls from five out of ten messages I leave.

More importantly you also benefit from messages left even when they don’t call back. Studies show it can take anywhere from four to seven approaches before someone responds to or consider something new, i.e. your product/service. Many reps will call numerous times, not leave a message hoping they will eventually get the person live; most will give up after three attempts at reaching someone, and move on. There is a difference between being persistent in getting on a prospect’s radar, and pestering; most reps give up too soon. When you do not leave a message, then you may have tried three or even four times, but as far as the prospect is concerned you’re at zero; you didn’t leave a message, no “calling card” telling them you want to talk to them.

Some reps waste time dialing someone dozens of times, not leaving a message. When they finally connect they let the built-up frustration out on the prospect, as though it was his fault that they called and called and called, instead of leaving a message and having them call back, while making use of the wait time to reach out to more prospects. Another thing to consider is that a vast majority of reps, who do not leave messages, still listen to the entire outbound message on the voice mail, so why not take a few more seconds and leave a message. It’s a no brainer. On the one hand, even if they don’t call back (within 72 hours), you are on the prospects radar (yes initially at the fringe but better placed than the those who don’t leave messages).

On the other hand, you have a 50-50 shot of getting a call back, good odds, and certainly many more conversation leading to more appointments. The technique for getting a call back is very simple. The human mind hates a mystery, given the opportunity to erase a question mark most people will do it. Most messages ask you to leave “a detailed message”, because they want to be able to full evaluate and prioritize who and what they call back. Your goal is to be contrarian and minimalist. Create a need for them to call back if they want to close off or resolve the issue. Using third party references and brevity is the key. Consider using a message like the one below. Assume ABC is a company you currently do or have done business with that the contact will recognize, (competitor, supplier, customer, but one that you are or have dealt with).

“Hi Ms. Smith. This is Paul Drake from Safety Software. You can reach me at 416-555-1212, and I’m calling you with reference to ABC Company.”
Keep the messages short!

If you leave a message like the one above, elicits curiosity and leverage the work you are doing with ABC Company to schedule an appointment with your target. As mentioned above, I get five return calls for every ten messages left. That is five more conversations than those who don’t leave messages, which means more appointments and more sales.

Small Business Voice Mail With Auto Attendant

A hosted Private Branch Exchange (PBX) telephone system provides your business with all the features of an expensive premise based PBX system, at lesser costs. Hosted PBX system is especially useful for small businesses as it features voicemail with auto attendant feature, among its many other advantages. Hosted PBX system enables small businesses to create a professional business image among potential customers.

Voicemail and auto attendant are two major features of a hosted PBX system. Small business voicemail with the auto attendant feature avoids the need for a receptionist and manages all incoming calls effectively. All incoming calls will be effectively attended and routed professionally so that, the callers will be under the impression that they are dealing with a big, flourishing firm. The auto attendant in hosted PBX offers comprehensive voice mail message delivery options and advanced call forwarding. With auto attendant, callers can be greeted with a professional sounding greeting message followed by a menu of options for the callers to choose from.

The greeting message can be customized and even varied on different days and separate greeting messages can be used for working hours and non-working hours. Other features that the auto attendant provides include call screening, dial by name, dial by extension, voice mail forwarding, 1-4 digit extension numbering, music on hold, follow-me call forwarding and group dialing. It also receives all the incoming faxes, converts them into PDF formats and sends them to the email inbox.

Hosted PBX telephone systems are integrated with VOIP technology and provide excellent voicemail features. If any call remains unattended, the caller will be automatically forwarded to the voicemail. Each employee can be provided with a unique voice mail box. New arrivals on the voice mail boxes can be notified by emails or text messages on cell phones. With hosted PBX system, you can enjoy outstanding communication services without any change in your existing infrastructure.

Voice Mail Retrieval – Don’t Rely on Your Device for Safe Storage

Improvements in technology are supposed to simplify the way we do business in our day to day activities. Digital technology that allows us to record voice and data such as phone conversations and missed calls has been a great convenience. But in some ways technology has also been a step backward.

The 80’s may seem a bit like the dark ages when it comes to cell phones, voice mail, recorded music and movies but it was also a period when it was simpler to make copies of your phone messages, movies, and even set up your TV/VCR system. (At least now the restrictions on music downloads have mostly been lifted.) Back then there was one type of broadcast, one or two types of video recorders, and one type of TV. Connecting cables to your TV and VCR was pretty much the same everywhere. If you had two VCRs it was easy to copy a movie to a second tape, albeit at a lesser quality than is available today. You could take a tape out of the answering machine or VCR and never lose the place where you left off – even if you take the tape to a different machine or wait an entire year to continue listening/viewing.

Now there are answering machines and Digital Video Recorders with no removable storage, copy restrictions, and so many different file formats – many of which are somewhat obscure or proprietary and only work with one or a few brands or types of equipment. It’s often a complicated process figuring out what you need and how to accomplish it. And I love it when I put in a DVD and am forced to watch not only the FBI warnings and other messages, but sometimes even advertisements.

And although I prefer DVD to VHS I hate recording TV shows to DVD. It has too often been a pain in the butt. Sometimes I don’t mind recording to the DVR (which is quite easy) that the cable company provided but other times I want a more permanent recording I can watch on a variety of TVs or keep for an indefinite amount of time. That’s why nowadays you can find a Digital VHS recorder in my home – yes they do exist. But now I’m just ranting and really digressing.

The point is – newer advanced technology has often made it more difficult to make copies of recordings for permanent storage or for any other reason.

When is Voice Mail & Voice Message Retrieval Necessary?
Any time you have a message or recording that’s important to you, you should invest in having that voice message saved in a safer, more permanent format. It could be for sentimental, business, legal, or other purposes. Copying the message will also free up space on you answering machine or voice mailbox.

Most services or cell carriers currently don’t offer a way for you to download a recorded message. If a message is important you usually have to save and resave it every month or so to prevent it from being deleted by the system. Using a voice mail transfer service will eliminate that need.

Why Save Voice Mail Messages?
In many cases, it’s a personal message that has some sentimental value. Family members that don’t see each other or get a chance to speak often can save messages and revisit them without having to navigate cumbersome voice mail menus or waste storage space on a digital answering machine. This type of service can also be used for:

  • Saving a cute message from a grandchild, or a child that’s away at a camp or retreat
  • Holding onto messages from a loved one who’s deceased
  • Leaving yourself important messages on your voice mail that you’d like quick access to.
  • Saving messages that are harassing or threatening to you – often saved for legal purposes

Whatever the type of message that’s been saved, it’s beneficial to have a hard copy or backup recording that’s easily accessed. As we all know, technology has a way of failing when we need it most. Limiting yourself to only the original copy of anything can be bad news – especially where digitally stored data is concerned. Most of us have had hard drives crash, flash drives lost, CDs damaged, voice mail services discontinued or some other cause of lost information.

The Downside of Digitally Recording a Phone Conversation
Some of us are pen and paper people and we can jot notes for hours while multi-tasking and handling important phone calls. Others need to rely on the digital recording features offered by new model phones – specifically to clearly record both sides of a conversation. Features like this are especially helpful for conference or other business related calls where the bulk of the message is extremely important, sensitive, etc.

The problem with many of these systems is that not all types offer the ability to easily move or transfer the digitally recorded information to another medium. Like voice mail systems where the information and conversation is stored digitally, you’ll need to manually move or record the data in another format.

Maintaining Quality during the Duplication Process
Many people still use answering machines in their home which often don’t use tape or removable memory cards. Many of these answering machines have messages on them that are months and even years old because the owner doesn’t have a way to make a quality copy.

If you have a device like a digital recorder, it’s possible to transfer the data on your own by playing back the information and recording it as it plays back. The issue with using this method of recording is the serious loss of quality as it’s played through a speaker and recorded through a microphone.

A voice mail transfer service may also have the ability to actually improve the sound quality. Some can apply audio enhancement and noise reduction techniques to the recording to improve the audio quality. A few companies can even provide transcripts or translations if necessary.

Professional equipment, experience in transferring voice messages, and direct recording from one medium to another can ensure that the quality of the message remains intact. When it comes to transferring sentimental or sensitive voice messages, it’s often best to use a professional voice message retrieval service.