Your voice is a key tool in everyday life, but not everyone is comfortable with their own voice. Often people worry their voice will hold them back as they feel it does not sound appealing or professional. You do not have to sound like a seasoned radio host to make your voice work for you. Famous people like Barbara Walters, who is a legend in the broadcast and journalism world despite her lisp, succeed without a conventionally attractive voice. Meanwhile comedian and actor Ben Stein is very monotone, but still successful. Do not think your voice will hold you back. Whether you are preparing for a presentation, an interview, or just want to always sound your best, here are tips to improve and get more comfortable with your own voice.
Diagnose Your Voice
The first step in improving your voice is to diagnose it. To do this you must record your voice for 1 to 2 minutes and speak like you are having a conversation. This can be done using your cell phone, webcam or simply leaving a voicemail for yourself. Word of caution, most people do not like the sound of their own voice. Our voice is very distorted to ourselves because it is filtered through our bodies, making it sound fuller and deeper. When we listen to our voice on a speaker, it sounds very different. This is how everyone else hears us. This does not necessarily mean we do not like our voice, we are just not used to it.
Once recorded, listen and make notes of exactly what you do not like about your voice. For example, is it too high? Too low? Scratchy or monotoned? Did you sound like you have low energy or robotic? There is no wrong answer, write all your thoughts down, good or bad.
E-mail Your Recording to Friends
After analyzing your recording, send it to family and friends. It is essential you pick people in your life who will be honest and straight forward with you. Ask them to critique your voice and what they do not like about it. Ask them where you could improve. It is important to get objective feedback.
When they have given their feedback, it will fall into three categories.
- Your voice is so awful and irritating, those listening can not handle it. This is rare, but if it does happen, it is important to see a speech therapist or a vocal coach to see what can be done to improve your voice and speech. Again, this is very unlikely.
- Your friends and family will provide you similar comments about your voice that you have already noted yourself. Perhaps you are monotoned or hesitant. These are fixable problems.
- Your criticism of yourself does not match your feedback from others. Your voice is fine, and no one ever thought about It. You don’t really have a voice problem, you just need to get used to it yourself.
There are also three categories that your voice will fall under:
- Amazing – Your voice is magical, inviting, and unique. Very few people have a voice like this.
- Awful – Your voice is irritating and not comfortable to listen to. Very unlikely this is you.
- Average – You more than likely have an average voice like 99% of the world does.
After looking at your feedback and that from others, you will have a better understanding what category you fall into.
The Main Problem
The majority of the time, there is one main problem when it comes to our voice and how it sounds. It is nerves! When we are doing something we are uncomfortable with, our nerves show. We speed up when we speak. We sound more monotone. We put doubt in our voice. Our voice does not lie and can express how we are feeling even if our words suggest the opposite.
The key is to figure out how to come across the best, even when nervous. Even if you are reading a boring presentation, your voice does not need to be boring. Once you diagnose the problem, you need to follow this solution. Record and practice.
Like before, record your voice. This time call up your friend and record your voice over an extended period of time. Talk about something you are passionate about. It could be your children, politics, or sports. Something that lights your fire. When done, listen back and find a moment where you are more engaged, and your voice is more alive. Notice how your voice changes. When excited does your voice go higher and you speak faster? Do you slow down and pause? A good voice is like a roller coaster, it does not stay the same. It becomes much more interesting to listen to the more it fluctuates.
The more you record and practice the better. If you have an upcoming speech or presentation, take a script or bullet points and practice trying to sound as interesting and conversational as you can. Imitate yourself when you are in a relaxed state.
Do Not Do This
A mistake many people make is that they try and lower their voice. They think a deeper voice will come across more authoritative and stronger. Do not do this! If anything, your voice will come across as fake and phony. You do not need to lower your voice to be considered formal or serious. You will end up sounding more ridiculous more ridiculous than your nervous voice. They will then feel you are unauthentic. People will forgive your natural voice before they would forgive someone who appears to be faking it.
With practice, your confidence in your voice will come. Record your audio but also consider recording yourself on video. This will be very beneficial for presenting to others. Listen and see how you are coming across. Critique yourself. The stuff you do not like, reduce it. Things you do like, add more. Do it again and again. Even if it takes time to record and practice, it will be worth it. Your confidence will improve.
To summarize, there is an excellent chance you have a normal voice, you just need to use it more effectively. By following these tips, you will be able to train your voice and become more comfortable hearing it. Remember to relax and allow your voice to have highs and lows, go fast and slow and everything in-between. When you sound confident and relaxed, your voice will be an asset to you.