How You Say It: Talk Low

  • How You Say It: Talk Low      By Gene Griessman

“Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much.” —Cowboy saying

This advice from the American West has come to be associated with the actor John Wayne, who according to one account offered it as acting guidance to Michael Caine.

The cowboys, and John Wayne, actually may have been on to something.

According to one recent study, people are more likely to rise in the ranks and make a higher income if their voices are low.

Gene Griessman

Think about it. A high-pitched voice suggests overwrought emotion, maybe hysteria. There’s just so much of that that anyone will willingly endure for long.

My grandson Peter is a kind sensitive lad who will look for a way to leave the room if its occupants begin to raise their voices.

There you have it. RAISE their voices.

A low voice suggests that the speaker is rational, deliberate, in control, centered. And that may explain the results described in the next paragraph.

After studying almost 800 male CEOs, professors from Duke and the University of California system concluded that CEOs on the deeper end of the vocal spectrum are paid, on average, $187,000 more in salary, than male CEOs on the upper end.

Male CEOs with deeper voices also run companies with $400 million more assets than the companies run by male CEOs with higher voices.

There you have it. Talk low. Move up. Get high pay.

That said, I’m now going to rain on my own parade. Contrary to what millions of visitors to the Magic Kingdom’s Hall of Presidents have been led to believe, Abraham Lincoln’s voice was decidedly in the upper register, which was so noticeable that many of his contemporaries commented on it.

The Lincoln exception notwithstanding, I think there is something here. You may want to give some thought and practice to lowering your voice. It’s easier to listen to and it suggests gravitas.

How you say it may actually be as important as what you say.


Don’t get embarrassed using a spurious Lincoln quote.  Here’s a quotation book you can trust  

The Words Lincoln Lived By is a stirring, inspirational treasury of quotations from our greatest and most admired president. Composed of Lincoln’s profound observations—one for every week of the year, each followed by a short commentary that provides historical context—the book offers rich material for interpretation, reflection, and spiritual guidance. In these pages, Lincoln, famed as an orator, shares his wisdom on courage and determination, compassion and compromise, tolerance and tact—the essential traits that define character. The timeless impact of his words is as powerful as the achievements that have helped to make him an American hero.

Unlike many quote books, every single Lincoln quotation in this book is authentic.

–Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “The Words Lincoln Lived By” is in its 25th printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225.

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