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, as she imitated a whiny, nasal sound in the process.
Image is 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 voicemail or some other form of recording equipment – not the sound you hear in your head. Is it possible that you are not getting that promotion or landing that particular job 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 at a normal volume level or they will take over the conversation.
How Good Is Your Diction? Whether you hail from Texas, Toronto or Timbuktu, 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 a 2-day workshop, he remarked that it was worth driving through a snowstorm from Ohio to New Jersey to learn how to speak more clearly. He felt more confident and it showed in his delivery.
Instead of trying to solve each problem with a particular exercise, all 3 people were taught the exact same technique: to use their chest cavity to power and amplify the voice. Most people are not aware of and thereby not using their chest in this capacity, 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:
1. a more mature quality of sound;
2. an increase of the softer volume to a normal level; and,
3. improved articulation.
Once you allow your chest to become your primary sounding board, you will find your voice to be a powerful tool, giving you a command of your presence which had previously been elusive. Nothing speaks confidence more than having this control.
As Kathleen Turner told 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.