While I was driving to work, I was listening to the morning news on the radio. During a report about the latest Ebola outbreak, I was shocked to hear a voice of calm – it was a doctor and scientist with great bedside manner.
Check out the audio from this interview with Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
While the media and other experts are calling this the worst outbreak the world has ever seen, Dr. Schaffner’s calming words stood out.
He’s confident, warm and likable. What a great example of the power of voice! He conveyed trust – something we are all craving amid this Ebola epidemic.
There is a lesson here for all of us who deal with crisis communications.
Connect first with warmth, then be direct and take the lead (read more about this in Harvard Business Review). This is how you can earn trust.
Imagine yourself on a conference call. How do you handle the crisis? Directly, warmly and competently.
First, hit the issue head on.
Then, tell them it’s gonna be okay.
Based on your voice, they will either believe it or not.
Start by smiling when you are speaking. A smile instantly adds warmth – the warmth you need to connect.
Vary the pitch, pace and volume of your voice. The sweet spot of “warmth and competence” is right between too formal and too casual. It’s conversational. It should feel and sound natural. That’s what the people you trust sound like. Think about how you’d say it at a backyard barbeque.
Your voice has the power to change the situation.
Are you diffusing the situation, or are you fanning the flames?