It's Not Just What You Say, It's How You Say It

It's Not Just What You Say, It's How You Say It

communication skills

As the saying goes, "it's not what you say, it's how you say it." Many people may have experienced this phenomenon firsthand: even if the words you use are logically sound, they may fall flat or even elicit a negative response if your tone of voice doesn't match the message.

But why does this happen? Why do people respond more strongly to the tone of your voice than the content of your words?

One reason is that tone of voice conveys emotions and attitudes, while the words themselves simply convey information. For example, if you say "I'm not mad," but your tone is angry, the person you're speaking to is likely to interpret your message as insincere or contradictory. In contrast, if you say "I'm sorry," with a tone of genuine remorse, the person you're speaking to is likely to believe that you're truly sorry.

Tone of voice can also convey nonverbal cues such as confidence, enthusiasm, and authority. If you speak with a strong, assertive tone, you're more likely to be perceived as credible and trustworthy. Conversely, if you speak in a timid or uncertain tone, you may be perceived as lacking in confidence or authority, even if the content of your words is accurate.

Another factor is that tone of voice can affect how people feel about the message itself. Research has shown that people are more likely to remember and be influenced by messages that are delivered in an engaging, dynamic tone of voice. This is why successful public speakers often use dramatic pauses, changes in pitch, and other vocal techniques to emphasize key points and keep their audience engaged.

Finally, tone of voice can affect how people perceive your intentions. For example, if you speak in a sarcastic or condescending tone, you may be perceived as insulting or dismissive, even if your words themselves are not explicitly insulting. Conversely, if you speak in a warm and friendly tone, you're more likely to be perceived as approachable and likable.

So, what can you do to ensure that your tone of voice matches the content of your words? First, be aware of your own vocal habits and how they may be perceived by others. Practice speaking with different tones and styles to see how they affect the message you're trying to convey. Second, pay attention to the tone of voice used by others, and adjust your own tone to match the situation. Finally, be mindful of the emotional impact of your words, and use tone of voice to convey sincerity, confidence, and authority. By doing so, you can ensure that your words are not just heard, but also truly understood and appreciated.

Joshua Seth is a celebrity voice actor, turned communication skills keynote speaker.

His mission is to help leaders unlock the power of their voice so they can speak with influence, communicate with confidence, and sound like a better version of themselves.

Joshua's known to millions as the voice of over 100 animated TV shows and movies, and can be heard in everything from Akira to Spongebob Squarepants. But he’s best known as the star of Digimon, voicing the main character Tai for the past 20 years in both the hit TV series and all 8 movies, helping it become the 75th highest grossing media franchise in the world.

He’s the author of the upcoming book "Communicate With Impact" (2023, New You Publishing). Joshua has delivered hundreds of keynote speeches and presentations over the past 10 years for many of the world's top companies and professional organizations.

For information on Joshua’s keynote speeches and workshops visit

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