As a people, we are concerned about the image we project. Certainly in business we want to project a professional image. Does your speaking voice complete that image or does it detract? By the way, I’m not talking about the voice you hear in your head. I’m referring to the sound you hear on your voicemail – the sound by which everyone else recognizes you.
If you are soft-spoken, for example, the image you are projecting is one of insecurity or weakness or diffidence. By learning to increase your volume to a normal level of sound, that image – which may have been ‘screaming’ lack of confidence – will change immediately.
In a voice training workshop I held recently, one of the participants was a man who spoke so softly that he was difficult to hear in a one-on-one conversation. An engineer, this man was sending the wrong message when he spoke. Once he learned to increase his volume to a normal level, he was amazed at the difference in how others perceived him. (He also discovered that he wasn’t shouting when he spoke at a normal volume level – a fear that many who are soft-spoken admit to.)
One of the women in the group, a business consultant, sounded like a teenager when she spoke. She was amazed by the difference in how she sounded once she discovered her ‘real’ or true voice. At 38 years-of-age, this woman recognized that she suddenly sounded mature. It was not an old sound, nor was it a young one. Her voice sounded ageless.
Another man had the habit of dropping off at the end of his sentences, something I find much more common among men than among women. By learning how to support his voice the correct way and to supplement his air while speaking, he was able to get through his sentences without fading half way through them.
Were there special exercises for each of the participants? No. Everyone learned the exact same techniques and each problem was solved by those techniques. Because most people are lazy or shallow breathers, they power the voice from the throat which can result in a host of voice difficulties – soft-spokenness, childlike quality, breathlessness, vocal abuse. The list goes on and on.
Once you learn how to use your chest cavity as your primary sounding board, however, you then discover a deeper, more mature sound which is neither too soft nor too loud in volume, can be projected without shouting, and improves with age.
If a professional image is important to you, discover your real voice. It will complete your image – not detract from it.