How to Develop a Friendly Tone of Voice

Words are often very imprecise vehicles of communication, requiring us to be as highly reliant on how a person sounds and expresses themselves when communicating. Indeed, your voice and accompanying expressions are a very powerful tool for communicating when used properly and a friendly tone of voice can make your seem more approachable and kind, and it might even win you some friends.

Moreover, given the tendency of many of us to listen halfheartedly to many people we meet, we're more likely to pay attention to a friendly voice than to one that is dull, monotone, or frustrated and angry. So, with these obvious benefits, it's worth cultivating a friendly tone of voice and such can be attained with ease with just a little experimentation and practice.


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    Think about what a friendly voice sounds like to you. What makes a voice sound friendly? A "friendly" voice lets people know that they can trust, rely upon, and be reassured by you. This will usually involve speaking clearly, naturally, with confidence, and without any nerves constricting your voice. The opposite to a friendly voice would include shouting or yelling, speaking too quickly, mumbling, and sounding urgent or irritated. Another way to perceive sounding friendly is as a way of speaking from the heart. This is best achieved by speaking with a deeper pitch of voice, slowing down the pace of delivery, observing plentiful pauses, and not trying to make your words appear too crafted or clever.
    • Watch how actors or speech givers you admire project a friendly voice. Think of an actor in a role where you perceived their character as friendly and note the tone, speed of delivery, facial expressions, and body language they present when in character. Use online videos to listen to their voice and watch their facial expressions as many times as needed.
    • Read How to be friendly in conjunction with developing a friendly voice. Being friendly is an entire package, so it's important to focus on yourself as a whole, and not just your voice.
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    Record yourself speaking. Find a paragraph in a book or newspaper you are reading, and speak as naturally as possible into some recording device. Speak as normally as you possibly can for the recording.
    • You will find a recording device in cell phones and computers, or you can buy a tape recorder or recording device at your local electronics store.
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    Watch yourself speak. Do this by standing in front of a mirror while reading the same paragraph. Watch your face carefully, paying special attention to how your mouth moves and your facial expressions. Which facial expressions don't seem to be helping you appear friendly? Lose them!
    • If you have video recording devices, such as a webcam, record yourself as you speak and play back both sound and image. Watch your body language as well as listening to voice tone because your overall projection is important for giving across a sense of friendliness.
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    Identify where you need to improve. Listen as objectively as you can to your recording and observe yourself in the mirror or video recording. What were your first impressions of your speaking voice? It can be especially surprising to hear it back from a recorded source and not just from listening to yourself speak.
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    Pay attention to common problems. Most people have a similar idea as to what the ideal speaking voice is. These qualities vary only slightly:
    • Varying pitch (inflection). Avoid the dreaded monotone by raising and lowering your voice to emphasize or de-emphasize certain points of what you are saying. This often varies by region, so pay attention to your friends and neighbors as they speak. Put feeling into what you're saying: include an element of sounding excited, motivated, or thrilled about some of the things you're conveying to others, such as when complimenting a person or their work, as this will help you to sound friendly.
    • Soft volume. Nobody wants to be yelled at, so speak just a little softer than you normally would, especially when talking to someone who is physically close to you. This doesn't equate to being a pipsqueak though; draw strength of voice from your inner core to sound firm, assured, and confident. In fact, depth of voice is the important aspect to imparting a sense of friendliness and trustworthiness, so concentrate on developing a firm depth in your voice to overcome too much softness.
    • Relaxed tone. If there is tension in your throat or chest, your voice will sound hoarse and forced, almost as if you have laryngitis. Relax your upper body, including your shoulders, neck and abdominal muscles, and your voice will sound more gentle and pleasant.
    • Gaps: A need to speak without pausing and to fill in gaps causes people to feel uncomfortable and impatient. People tend to be more attracted to a speaker who talks with adequate pauses and not too quickly; this gives a sense of authority and confidence in what is being said. In addition to making space for gaps, taking time to breathe deeply and slowly will improve the delivery of your words, especially if you feel stressed or pressured.[1]
    • Smile: When you speak, introduce smiles into your voice. Initially, try smiling and speaking together. Then, consider how you can introduce a sense of a smile into your voice without necessarily having to smile (since smiling isn't always appropriate). It helps to have a genuine visualization of your friendliness underlying your intention to speak this way. And definitely smile when speaking over the phone; it's noticeable to the listener.
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    Practice your new speaking voice. Record and watch yourself again, and decide whether you did an adequate job at correcting the problems you identified earlier. Be careful not to overdo it; your voice will sound obviously fake if you change it too much. Once you have struck a balance that you like to listen to, practice reading out loud or even talking on the phone with close friends. Continue practicing regularly over a few weeks, until it becomes second nature.
    • If you don't notice changes or find this too difficult to achieve alone, consider a voice coach for a few sessions. A voice coach can teach you a lot about proper diction, emphasis and strength of voice, as well as using your breath (diaphragm and lungs) and voice (mouth, vocal cords) in unison to achieve perfect resonance.
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    Try different methods of message delivery. Change the word emphasis or stress in sentences to reflect curiosity, excitement, interest, responsibility, and other positive emotions. Turn around a demand or defensive comment, or even a bossy or offensive statement, with a positive projection just by shifting the emphasis on the words, thereby making you sound much friendlier. For example:[2]
    • "What would you like me to do about the empty fridge?" – a defensive emphasis
    • "What would you like me to do about the empty fridge?" – cooperative, willing to dialog
    • "What would you like me to do about the empty fridge?" – apathetic monotone, shrinking violet or poor decision-maker.
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    Watch your language and your thoughts. It isn't only tone but also content. Friendliness can be projected through the words used and the emphasis should be on using courteous, thoughtful, and caring language when engaging with others. People are less likely to find someone who curses, gossips, or complains as a friendly person. And what you're thinking can easily come through in the tone of your voice, so take care with the things you're thinking, so that you don't project a different message from the one you're seeking to put across.
    • Be careful of such signs of impatience, lack of forbearance, or irritation as sighing, tutting, muttering under your breath, and clicking your tongue. These are not friendly noises and they can undermine your attempt to sound friendly if used.


  • Always keep a smile on your face because it makes you appear friendly and could even make you friendlier. It's a wonderful add-on to your friendly tone.
  • If one of the reasons why you don't sound friendly is because of nerves, spend some time memorizing small talk openers so that you can get conversations started without feeling nervous. Focus on getting the other person to do a lot of the talking with open-ended questions and a genuine interest in the other person. This will give you time to warm up and find your "friendly voice".
  • Try asking a close friend or mentor their candid opinion on your voice both before and after you try to change it. They can offer a more objective opinion, which will prove invaluable.
  • Modulate your voice for the right occasion. Don't speak loudly when on an airplane, using a cell phone, during a concert or the movies, or at work. A friendly voice isn't a loud or shouting one.


  • Speaking too much will hurt your vocal chords and could land you with a permanently damaged voice. Don't overdo the practice, and take breaks often. If your throat ever starts to hurt, immediately stop and try to stay as silent as possible for as long as necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Recording device
  • Mirror

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