Some years ago, Barbara Walters interviewed Kathleen Turner, commenting on Turner’s “low, wonderful voice.” The actress responded that she could not understand how a woman could spend thousands of dollars on her clothing, hair, and makeup and not spend some of that money on her voice, imitating a whiny, nasal sound in the process.
Image is certainly something with which most people are very concerned and yet many people are totally unaware of what their voice may be saying about them. The voice I am talking about is the one you hear on your voice or some other form of recording equipment – not the sound you hear in your head. Is it possible that you are not getting promoted because of how you sound? It happens more often than you think.
When You Sound Like a Child (and are over 21). A young woman was sent to me by her employer because she had a childlike voice and was not making a good impression with her banking customers, at times even reverting to baby talk. Pat was amazed when she discovered her real voice because she sounded so mature. Her bank later phoned to thank me, remarking that Pat not only sounded professional but her entire demeanor had changed. She now walked with purpose.
Why the Soft-Spoken Voice Does Not Sell. Simply put, if your words are not being heard, then your message is irrelevant. An employee of 3M, Don was not offering his opinions during the weekly management meetings because he was constantly being interrupted. When he learned how to increase his volume correctly, he was amazed by what happened at his next meeting: everyone paid attention to him. If you expect others to listen to you, then you must speak with enough volume to be heard comfortably the 1st time you say it. Listeners tire of straining to hear the soft-spoken and they will take over the conversation.
If You Are Loud, You Are Turning Your Listeners Off. While not as common as the soft-spoken voice, the loud voice has its own problems, the most important of which is that it can hurt your listeners’ ears. Angie, a lovely middle-aged woman from Texas, came to see me because her colleagues and her boss were always asking her to ‘tone it down.’ What Angie did not realize when she discovered her real voice was that her voice had not only softened in volume but the sound which resulted was remarkable – rich, warm, deeper in pitch and resonant.
Excessive Nasality Is Like Nails on a Blackboard. Too much nose in speaking is annoying. Reminiscent of Fran Drescher in The Nanny, Rich was told that he would not get ahead until he did something about his voice so he immediately took steps to solve the problem. When he discovered his real voice, the change was so dramatic that he was offered a position in project management, a huge jump from his prior job function. His boss remarked, “I feel as if you have matured 10 years.”
How Good Is Your Diction? Whether you are from Texas, Toronto or Timbuctoo, clear speech is imperative if you expect others to understand your message. Accents, heavy dialects, and mumbling are 3 culprits which can interfere with your diction. Mohammad had a heavy accent and wanted to speak more distinctly. As a realtor, he knew his clients were having difficulty understanding him. After making the change, he remarked that it was worth driving through a snowstorm from Ohio to New Jersey to solve his problem.
Instead of trying to solve each problem with a particular exercise, all 5 people were taught the exact same technique: to speak within their optimum pitch range and use their chest cavity to power and amplify the voice. Most people are not aware of and not using their chest cavity in this manner, relying on their other 4 vocal resonators – the voice box, throat, mouth and nasal cavities – to produce their sound. By changing your voice placement, you will discover a deeper, richer, warmer voice which results in:
- a more mature quality of sound;
- an increase of the soft volume to a normal level;
- a decrease of the loud volume to a normal level;
- the elimination of nasality; and,
- improved articulation.
Others who produce their sound correctly include James Earl Jones, Sean Connery, Kate Beckinsale, Ashley Judd, George Clooney, and Felicia Rashad.
As Kathleen Turner said to Barbara Walter, “The power of the voice is exciting as heck!” Don’t let your voice sabotage your career. Make it an asset, not a liability.