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Leadership Communication Skills that Tame the Millennial Voice

Updated: Apr 3

by Stephanie Bickel

leadership communication skills

The Millennial Voice puts you at a disadvantage in the team room. It makes your ideas sound less credible. Worse is that many listeners associate the millennial voice with negative personality traits: less experienced, concerned more about socializing than doing the work, poor listening skills, and self-centered. If you have a millennial sound you are having to work harder to get your ideas heard.

That being said, you probably are very likable, fun, and have a good social life!

We coach men and women on taming the millennial voice. You hear an exaggerated example in this video with Lake Bell. She also references vocal fry and uptick issues.

Vocal fry is more common on women. We hear uptick on men and women. In the millennial male voice, we often hear poor consonant precision thrown in there, too, which can make some men sound sleepy or even lazy.

If you want to tame these vocal habits, we encourage you to work on these leadership communication skills.

Self Coaching Strategies:

1. Use downward intonation at the end of phrases you want to be heard as fact.

2. Save upward inflection only for when you want to elicit a laugh.

3. Get louder. Increase your vocal energy without letting your pitch rise. Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts are great models of this.

4. Focus on aspirating medial consonants in words like: probably, important, innovative, diligence

5. Stop trying to sound like a friend and seek to be heard for your ideas.

6. Shorten your statements to the minimum number of words. This makes you sound more senior and authoritative. While that is a content issue, versus a voice issue, it is often linked.

Here are the top three practices in our vocal presence coaching programs:

Do a Daily Warm Up:

You are changing vocal habits that you have been unconsciously practicing for years. Changing them will require diligent practice and heightened self awareness. Vocal exercises help train your voice to sound the way you want it to. Warm up the voice with low hums and buzzing sounds. Remember to relax your jaw, so there is no tension in your mouth. Work to widen your throat as you do so. Try playing with a kazoo also.

Practice Messages You Need to Deliver in Advance of the Meeting:

Record yourself in the Voice Memo app, or take a video of yourself with your phone. Make yourself watch and do it again and again until you are pleased. People do not develop exceptional voices by accident; they do it by practice.

Pay attention to your breath. Are you breathing on your punctuation? Are you rushing? Do you have enough air to make that last word strong?

Channel a vocal role model. Who do you want to sound like? Study that person. Maybe you want to sound more like a parent, an actor like James Earl Jones, an ESPN sports commentator, or reporter like Fareed Zakaria. Practice impersonating that person to see if you find more vocal authority and seniority.

Enunciate those consonants - especially the middle and ending sounds.

In the moment - breathe:

If you have done the warm-up and message practice, do not overwhelm yourself by trying to remember all these little points. Instead, just focus on breath and your ideas. Without breath, your voice sounds less credible and your brain won't be able to concentrate clearly on your ideas.

Taking a 2-3 second initial breath and a 1-2 second breath in-between your statements will help prevent loss of energy in your voice.

You can do a lot to reduce your Millennial Voice on your own. If you want to work with a coach to develop a custom program, we are here to help. It is a tremendous professional advantage to have a strong, credible voice.


Speak by Design University creates great leaders. It’s the only leadership communication program in the world that gives you access to self-paced learning, group coaching and training and, most importantly, private one-on-one coaching. Learn more and register.


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