How You Say It:Talk Low

  • Verbal Tactics From The American West: 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 fellow actor Michael Caine.

The cowboys may have been on to something.

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

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. He finds high-pitched voices threatening.

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.

Talk low. Move up. Earn more.  It seems a person with a low-pitched voice has an advantage.

  1. Now I’m going to rain on this parade. Abraham Lincoln, our most beloved President, did not have a low-pitched voice.

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 may be something to this low-talk idea.  Unless you’re some kind of latter-day Lincoln, you may want to give some thought and practice to lowering your voice. It’s easier to listen to and it suggests gravitas.

Take this cowboy advice: how you say it is sometimes as important as what you say.

The Words Lincoln Lived By

“Not a single Lincoln quote that’s spurious in the entire book.”

“This is a book to cherish and share.”—Bill Marriott, CEO, Marriott International, Inc.

“Not only does Griessman give us Lincoln quotes, but he also weaves each one into a little jewel of an essay on that particular subject.” Wayne C. Temple, renowned Lincoln scholar, Illinois State Archives

A stirring, inspirational treasury of quotations from our greatest and most admired president.

You will also enjoy Lincoln Speaks To Leaders by Gene Griessman and Pat Williams.

Don’t leave yet. You’ve found a goldmine. Check out additional power phrases and unusual quotations.


Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “TheWords Lincoln Lived By” is in its 23rd printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd printing. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions and annual meetings all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225. Learn more at Atlanta Speakers Bureau or at his website. His latest book “Lincoln and Obama” has just been released by Audible.
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2 Responses to How You Say It:Talk Low

  1. jon says:

    great advice!

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