Ejecutivos, March 15, 2012
There are plenty of speakers and not enough voices with soul. German sociologist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann spoke of a “silence spiral”, to which we should now juxtapose a sort of noise spiral: message saturation, excessive volume, content confusion and brand dispersion. All of these threats bury projects destined to succeed. Why do they fail? Because they go unheard. To say the least, these are enterprises that self-mutilate their fertility because they didn’t find a voice equivalent to the quality of the message or product. It’s similar to the best gift in the worst possible wrapper.
Not to nurture your voice is just as erroneous as judging beauty by its make-up, above all if you specialize in selling and not giving things away on the international market. This is even more so in turbulent times.
Twenty one centuries ago, Quintiliano advised us not to try to be a better speaker than a person because the audience will soon find out. Great wisdom from this rhetorician and pedagogue who summed up the concept of a good speaker as a good person who speaks well. In effect, it’s better to be silent and appear dumb than to speak and demonstrate it. In the same way, it’s better to speak well with a good voice than to loose business because of acoustic discredit.
Translate messages, not words
The art of effective communication is a subtle harmony of senses and sensibilities: listen with sight, speak with tact, decide with smell, observe with hearing and choose with taste. That’s why the executives that run away from dangerous short term results and lead market perceptions, value the relevance of counting with a voice that identifies their enterprise in a way that jumps out to sight and hearing. This point of professional subtlety becomes crucial for international enterprises that need to transmit messages – which are more than words – in other languages and in other cultures. Credibility is at stake.
As advisor to executives I apply listening models which are intrinsically human and executively sustainable. I can confirm their effectiveness from the petitions that I receive to guide and create enterprises and executives who look for consultants of high quality, that go beyond technical or surface questions, which are evidently necessary, but are better resolved when the nucleus is clear.
Once that strategic communication has been defined and therefore, my mission concluded, it’s time for the dress up, the technical execution, the instrumental development… It is here that I frequently perceive the need, not always explicitly recognized, for highly qualified specialists: for example, appropriate voices for audio and video messages with promotional, commercial, institutional, technical, cultural or educational objectives.
I know few businesses with the experience and sensibility of 1A-Locutores (www.1a-locutor.es). This Spanish enterprise specializes in international broadcasters and brings together about twenty native language professionals in the world’s most spoken languages and others such as Swiss, Arabic, Danish, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, etc. They are expert male and female voices, familiar just as much with the microphone and written word, as with the culture of the language to which they translate into. They guarantee high fidelity to the message and imply underlying goodness in a friendly manner.
I admire their meticulousness to offer genuine voices, without betraying accents. The alma mater of 1A-Locutores is the reporter Katia Borrás. Her voice, modulated for years in Radio Baviera (Munich), was chosen to bring to the ear, with commercial efficiency, the soul of enterprises as diverse as BMW, Hugo Boss, Miele, Canal Arte, Motorola, the UN, Siemens and Toshiba.
Inadequate accent, bad product acceptance
Knowing languages is only useful if you have something interesting to tell. This is why I really appreciate the emphasis Katia places on something which I have given little thought to until recently. As she explains, “a message directed to a specific audience expressed with an inadequate accent can result in bad product acceptance, because the listener identifies, not only the accent, but the entire message as lacking authenticity. In more than a few instances we have had to repeat the recording with a new speaker. In these cases the recording becomes expensive, as it costs double the time and money”.
As an offspring of shared realities and matured thoughts, I concluded long ago that communication begins by listening: audio, ergo communico. The audio that listens is completed and enriched later with the audio that speaks. When your credibility is valued, your voice sells.