At first blush, professional presentations don’t appear to have much in common with, of all subjects, sexual wellness. If that’s your first thought about it, before I draw the connection, I’d like to introduce you to Gina Gutierrez, a young woman in the business new.

A former high-tech brand manager, Gutierrez is a winsome, candid, and savvy entrepreneur who co-founded Dipsea, a sexual wellness (code name for female erotica) app. Her success story is all over The New York Times, The New Yorker, and other media. Analyzing Dipsea’s success, it quickly becomes apparent that much of it relies on the power of storytelling and compelling voices to sell subscriptions. As a result, Gutierrez and her company have raised millions in venture capital investment.

Are you plugging in to the links between communication and influence (one that need not include sultry language)? It doesn’t matter if your target audience is Gen X or Boomer, great storytelling and making the most of your voice are hallmarks of effective speaking. It’s a big part of what holds an audience’s attention. Any presentation subject matter at hand could be slightly blue or pristine white, inherently provocative or purely technical. All benefit from great stories and authentic voices.

The moral? Fashions and fads change, but human nature is reliable and predictable: We all like good stories and appealing voices.

Thus, it stands to reason that any professional not working to develop their voice is missing out on important opportunities, both economic and personal ones. About 95% of our clients say they cringe at the sound of their own voices. This is a shame, because the vast majority of people have voices that are truly lovely.

Still, “Ugh, I hate my voice,” is a comment I hear too often. People rarely know how to recognize the strengths of their individual voices much less how to further develop them beyond where they currently are. Your voice is important to your work. Be assured, it also can be developed and enhanced. This doesn’t require decades of work, just a few simple exercises from time to time. But most people have no idea what the pathway is.

As for telling a story, it’s both skill as well as artform. Everyone can develop the skills, and many eventually develop that skill into an artform, one that enchants and influences others with great success.

From our 2-day program Center Stage: Speaking with Influence, executive coaching processes, and speeches, you learn how to maximize your skill at telling stories as well as ways to open the door and release the magic in your voice. You don’t have to be born with actor James Earl Jones’ resonance or Cate Blanchette’s cool accent to achieve the objective of being heard. By the way, Jones had many obstacles to overcome to reach his successes given that he struggled with stuttering. Imagine.

Center Stage is so powerful for voice work, it sometimes surprises me. I once was working with a group of senior executives in the University of Texas’ Executive MBA program on a competitive group presentation. One young man in the group also suffered with stuttering. Yet, the competition required everyone in the group to speak, so he couldn’t “sit this one out.” The tenured Harvard professor who oversaw the groups was astonished, when, after I’d taught the young man a few ideas from Center Stage, his delivery was flawless.

I’m not suggesting that Center Stage cured a lifetime of stuttering. I am saying that the techniques from Center Stage accessed a different part of his brain where stuttering didn’t live for that specific presentation, so he could speak in that instance with grace. Remember, the 2010 Academy-Award winning film, The King’s Speech, about England’s King George VI and his legendary speaking coach Lionel Logue? There are some similarities.

Short of attending Center Stage this December 5 and 6 or scheduling your own in-house program, here are three things you can do right now to create a more influential voice. These simple exercises relax and restore irritated, stressed vocal cords. They build vocal health.

  1. Stop grousing about the imperfections of your voice. Your voice is perfect as it is. From this vantage point, “things are good, let’s make it better” you can expand more easily.
  2. Relax in a chair, on a sofa, or in bed when you wake up. Rest your palms gently on your abdomen about where your waist is. Breath easily and as naturally as possible noticing if your hands are rising and falling with your breath. If so, good, that’s what you want. If not, release tension in your shoulders and rib cage. Imagine initiating your breath from low in your abdomen. Let the rising and the falling of your breath be strongest from your abdomen. When your abdomen is “stuck” or stiff, your vocal cords will tense up. This can be an important step in expanding the quality of your voice.
  3. Inhale in a relaxed way and hum as you exhale. Have fun with it. Feel all the tickles and crackles and sensations possible.

Note: 100 % of my comments are a direct result of client comments, questions, or my personal experiences. My words reflect real issues leaders and professionals face daily. This one relates to the universal power of storytelling and our voices.