One of the most frequent questions I hear is how do I tell my spouse, my friend, or a colleague that they need to improve their speaking voice? This really is a tough issue because if you approach someone advising them that their speaking voice needs some work, they are probably going to be offended.
If we had the ability to hear ourselves the way everyone else does, this would not be an issue. Unfortunately, how we sound to the outside world is not how we sound inside our head which is why we don’t like hearing our voice on our voicemail, answering machine or some other type of recording equipment. Therein lies the difficulty.
Most people believe that their speaking voice is deeper in pitch than it really is. The majority of the population hear themselves in this manner. Only a small percentage actually hear themselves higher in pitch than what it really is. And, while most people may be dismayed by what they hear on the recording equipment, they tend to promptly forget it – again, because it is not the warm sound they distinguish in their mind or inside their head.
Remember – What you hear on your answering machine or voicemail is the truth. What you hear in your head is a lie.
So, the question becomes, how do you tell someone that they should seriously consider voice training? I have found that there are several ways to approach that individual without hurting their feelings.
- If they are soft-spoken, you can tell them that they are hard to hear.
- If they speak in a monotone, explain to them that voice training would teach them how to speak with color, with life, with emotion.
- If they mumble or speak with a heavy accent, tell them that you have difficulty understanding their diction.
- If they speak too loudly, tell them as gently as possibly that their voice hurts your ears.
- If they sound too young, explain to them that they sound too young and that their voice gives the wrong impression, especially over the phone.
- If their voice is excessively nasal, tell them that they do not sound professional.
In all of the above situations, there is a good possibility that once you explain the problem to them – as diplomatically as possible – they will probably agree. Most people have heard themselves on recording equipment and deep down inside they know the truth. By stating the obvious to them, you have only reinforced what they may have been reluctant to want to acknowledge; and, they will probably thank you for your advice.
You can work with Nancy by means of Voicing It or by private Skype sessions.