tone of voice

It’s hard to imagine that anyone places greater importance on the words they choose than lawyers do. However, in business development, successful communication often depends less on the words you say than on your tone of voice.

According to ContactPoint, voice tone has six times the impact of your words -- about 86% of a listener’s experience. Use the wrong voice tone, and buyers can lose interest after the very first sentence.

Here are three common voice-tone-related mistakes, with suggestions to improve your phone interactions.

Mr. Roboto

Untrained and uncomfortable with selling, some lawyers rely on prepared scripts for their sales conversations, including counters to objections and ways to “provide value.” Instead of the call feeling like a free-flowing conversation about what’s best for the prospect, it sounds like the lawyer’s only interest is getting the prospect to buy.

We don’t want to wing it, but when we sound too prepared, prospects can tense up and be less likely to share in-depth information with you. When a call has a casual, non-sales tone, prospects will be more comfortable being candid.

Be human. Your most valuable assets are a friendly voice tone and an appropriate sense of humor. According to Hubspot, “Your voice tone can put people at ease or on edge, and an ability to make people laugh will go farther in making them trust you than any sales pitch.”

I'm so bored

Without intending to, some lawyers are thinking about what else they have to do today. When you’re distracted, your voice can go flat, making you sound bored. If you sound bored, how important will your prospects feel?

Don’t think you can mask it; you’re not that good an actor. People can tell when you’re distracted (even something seemingly as innocuous as taking a peek at your email).

If you think a technology assist might help, there are apps to keep you focused, such as BlockSite, Freedom, or StayFocusd. These tools limit your internet access during times you select. Paying close attention to your prospect also enables you to pick up on details you’ll definitely miss out on otherwise.

Negative emotions

Having a tough day? Tough. You still have to make contact with your prospects and referral sources. Resolve whatever’s bothering you so that your voice doesn’t reveal negative emotions that will compromise your call. If you’ve had a setback, don’t carry it with you during the day. (I know lawyers struggle with resilience, but try to remember that whatever it was, it’s unlikely that it’s personal. Try to focus on what’s important now.


Tips to protect voice tone

Stay upbeat

Focus on the problem that has motivated your prospect to invest time in your call, and how you can make a positive difference in their circumstances and fortunes. (If your call isn’t based on this, you shouldn’t be calling at all. Fix your foundation.) When you’re positive, the prospect is more likely to mirror your positive emotions. Your upbeat tone becomes contagious. This can be as simple as smiling when you’re on the phone. Look in a mirror when you’re on the phone. Don’t stay planted in your chair all day. Get up and move around to get some energy into your voice.

Emphasize key points

When discussing how you’ll make a positive difference, make it clear with your voice tone. Prospects know that not everything that’s said is equally important. Emphasize important words and phrases by using a higher pitch to make them stand out. Don’t go overboard, but make specific points stick in your prospect’s mind.

Know when to be serious

After building rapport, when it’s time to get down to business, adjust your tone -- without becoming Mr. Roboto. Let your tone reflect the importance of this part of the conversation.

When you discuss important items, make sure your tone reflects that. It impacts how the prospect views you and influences whether they’d like to work with you.

Your voice tone has real influence on a prospect’s decision to buy. Having great credentials and experience, and a trusted firm brand gives you an advantage. How you communicate makes a big difference.

Mike O'Horo


Thousands of lawyers like you have learned that coaching can make the difference between succeeding, and merely intending to. If you'd like to explore how personalized coaching can make a difference, schedule a complimentary call with me.