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As soon as you speak, you will instantly be judged


With first impressions, your voice is more important than you may realise. It takes less than 1 second for people to judge your personality. Yes, less than 1 second. That’s the time it takes to say the word “Hello”.

There was a famous line in the movie Jerry Maguire. Renée Zellweger says to Tom Cruise: “You had me at Hello!”.


Upon hearing your voice, a listener will instantly form important personality impressions of you. This is the basis for a good first impression. In a study by Dr. Phil McAleer (1)⁠ at the University of Glasgow, scientists recorded 64 people reading a text that contained the word“Hello”. The scientists then edited out all other text, keeping only the word Hello. They then played the voice files for 320 participants and asked them to rate the voices on 10 different personality characteristics:

● Trustworthiness ● Likability ● Confidence ● Attractiveness

● Aggressiveness ● Competence ● Dominance ● Warmth

● Femininity ● Masculinity


The listeners showed high agreement (with almost 90% correlation) when deriving these first impressions of the speaker’s personality! It did not matter whether the personality traits were correct or incorrect. What was important was that there was a very strong agreement among the 320 listeners on the overall personality judgments. The audience testing results we have done with Voiceable validates this study. Audiences quickly agree on how your personality gets judged.


Fight or Flight Response: I guess it makes sense that decisions about personality should happen really fast. According to McAleer “There’s this evolutionary ‘approach/avoidance’ idea — you want to quickly know if you can trust a person so you can approach them or run away and that would be redundant if it took too long to figure it out.” The impression that our voices convey — even from an audio clip lasting just 390 milliseconds — appears to be down to several voice factors. Would you like to know what they are?


For more impact and influence when speaking try the Voiceable app.

Learn more about impact and influence when speaking by registering for our next free webinar.


Rick Salmon (founder of Voiceable)


Get the Voiceable App www.GetVoiceable.com

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1 How Do You Say ´Hello´? Personality Impressions from Brief Novel Voices, Phil McAleer, Alexander Todorov, Pascal Belin, Published March 12, 2014. Http://dx.dol.org/10.137/journal.pone.0090779

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