What type of message does your voice project? If you are not sure, listen to yourself on your voice mail or your answering machine. You are probably saying that you don’t like hearing yourself on a recording because you may find it embarrassing, appalling, or even horrifying.
If you have no means of recording yourself, stand in a corner, facing the two walls. With your mouth 6 inches from where the walls meet, say something you know from memory or read a paragraph from a book or a magazine. Concentrate on your voice and not on the words. What did you hear? Chances are that you did not recognize the sound because it is not the same sound you hear in your head when you speak.
So which ‘voice’ do you think is true? The one you hear in your head or the one you find appalling? Should you refuse to believe that what you hear on your answering machine or in the corner is the truth, then let me ask you this question. If you were to record someone else and play it back, would you recognize that person’s voice? Bingo!
We have two types of ear: the outer ear and the inner ear. Because the sound waves of our speaking voice travel away from our body as we speak, our outer ear (the ear that recognizes all other sounds) is unable to recognize our own voice as it is heard by everyone else.
Instead, we hear our voice by means of our inner ear. And, that is distorted sound – sound that is vibrating in the solid and liquid of the brain. Unfortunately, what you hear in your head is usually much more pleasant than what comes through on your voicemail or in the corner.
Were you compelled to hear yourself throughout the day as others do, I guarantee you would want to change it because you probably care about the image you project. The problem with your voice on your answering machine is that you hear it, you dislike it, and then you promptly forget it.
Don’t forget it because your voice speaks volumes about you. If you are soft-spoken, for instance, others may see you as shy or lacking in confidence. If you are loud, on the other hand, you may be perceived as aggressive or overbearing. If you are 40 and sound like a 12-year-old, then you sound immature. If you are a man with excessive nasality, you may sound like a woman. If you speak with little or no emotion, then you could be projecting a cold or distant image.
How do you change your voice? The answer is to find your ‘real’ voice which happens when you 1.) allow your chest cavity to power your sound; and, 2.) speak within your optimum range. Most people are doing neither which is why most speaking voices lack warmth, depth, and resonance, again, only possible if the chest is in use.
Should you wish to discover your ‘real’ voice, always keep these two conditions in mind in your search for good voice training. If you are not going to be taught how to breathe with support and find your optimum pitch, then don’t waste your time or your money.
If the medium is the message, change the medium and the message will sound more confident, more interesting, and more dynamic.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels is President of Voice Dynamic as well as Selfgrowth's Official Guide to Public Speaking. Holding private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills, she also offers Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement.
For more information on voice and presentations skills, click here for her 4-minute presentation, Tapping the Full Potential of the Speaking Voice