Mirroring: This Hypnotist’s Trick Will Make People Listen To You

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How do I add presence and depth to my voice? Sometimes people switch off or don't seem to get everything I say - how do I change that? What do hypnotists have to do with public speaking?

Hypnotism is a fascinating science. At its core, it is the act of entrancing someone so absolutely that they lose a sense of who they are, and begin to take your ideas into their reality. You can convince someone to act like a chicken, to sing at the top of their lungs - to do anything, really.

But when you talk to hypnotists and hypnotherapists, they generally agree on one thing: that no-one really knows what a hypnotic state is. Under analysis, hypnotised people exhibit vastly different symptoms and have different depths - some go into a deep hypnosis, some are very shallow. There is only one uniting factor in all forms of hypnosis: that the participant believes that they have been hypnotised.

The hypnotist's only job is to make the person believe that they are being hypnotised, and they achieve this through two complex ideas: showmanship and misdirection. The classic hypnotist techniques - the pendulum used to draw your eyes from side to side, the slowly dimming light - are all used to draw the participant into a relaxed, docile state of mind. They can then convince them that this relaxation is, in fact, hypnosis. With this belief, the participant hypnotises themselves.

But what can a hypnotist's showmanship teach us about our own voice? There is one technique in particular that they use more than any other: mirroring. Hypnotists know that the speed of the delivery has a crucial effect on the participants. Speak too fast, or appear too uncertain, and the participant will begin to come out of their slumber. But why?

Rule number one: the way you use your voice produces bodily effects in those who listen to you. A fast speaker speeds up the heart rate of those who listen to them. A tense, gripped voice creates tension in its listeners. An uncertain speaker creates uneasy listeners. The listener mirrors the speaker.

The hypnotist bends this rule to their advantage. They slows down their speech, leading the participant into a relaxed, resting heart beat. They deepen the timbre of their voice, adding convincing weight and depth. They relax their body, causing the listener to relax. They mirror their ideal listener in the way that they use their voice.

Think about this: what effect do you want to produce in your audience? Do you want them to be excited and aroused into action? Do you want them to be convinced and impressed? Do you want them to feel warm and comforted? Start mirroring your ideal listener in your voice, and watch how people suddenly pay attention to you.

Are you a working musician looking for a warm-up routine? A teacher with a long drive to work every morning? A public speaker looking to get in the zone before the big presentation? Warm up your commute with VoiceHacker's free download of our Driver's Warm-Up Routine: a 10-minute warm-up designed by experts to get you ready to hit the big time from the comfort of your own car. Take the wheel. Master your voice.

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