Join Tatiana Kolovou for an in-depth discussion in this video Finding your best voice, part of Communication Tips.
- Have you ever stopped to think about how you sound in day-to-day conversation? Or consider the impression your voice makes on others? The voice you use in the workplace should communicate trust, authenticity and friendliness. It can help you come across as a person who is approachable and easy to work with. A natural voice sounds graceful. It's easy and it's unforced. It's not monotone, rather it's multi-toned and expressive.
It's hard to identify a single natural voice. Well, we are all quick to notice someone's varied pitch, their soft volume, or a tone that's relaxed or too somber for one occasion. Or its too shrill and rapid for another. No matter what your job is, you will benefit from developing and strengthening you natural voice in day-to-day conversations casual or not. Here are four steps for accomplishing that. Find your natural voice.
Your vocal cords determine your natural pitch. Now, women tend to have smaller vocal cords. This makes their pitch higher, and although a higher pitch gets attention if it's consistent it communicates a lack of credibility and confidence. Our pitch becomes higher under strong emotions, such as excitement, anxiety, or fear. Or when our vocal cords constrict and we're straining to get the air out. To find your natural pitch, first sit quietly in a chair and feel how your body produces sounds.
Take a deep breath, in filing your diaphragm and as you exhale, place your hand on your stomach to feel that breath coming out. Let the air come out as the sound streams from your mouth. Repeat as you stand and you feel air following your sounds all the way from diaphragm to your throat and your mouth. Now, say something. For example, sing a happy birthday song as you breathe in and out.
Continue to do this as you lean forward to 90 degrees. See your vocal cords are open the most when you are in that forward leaning position which will result in your most natural voice. Second, intonate for the occasion. Changing your pitch makes you sound more interesting. Listen to sports announcers, they produce many highs and lows in their intonation that makes every moment of their message worth listening to.
This variance in pitch is crucial for effective speaking. You don't want to sound predictable and monotone. Low pitch comes from the diaphragm and lungs. Middle pitch from the upper chest and throat. And the high pitch comes from the head, the mouth, the vocal cords. You also want to be sure to match tone to intent. Rising intonation, such as, "You're here?", usually goes with a yes or no question.
If it's overused with other sentences what we call uptalk. You sound like you're unsure of what you're exactly saying. Now, non-native speakers need to be especially careful about the trap of mimicking this intonation in an effort to fit in. During my first year in the United States, it took me a long time to un-teach myself of this bad habit. A falling intonation at the end of a sentence, "You're here," communicates more of a fact or a statement.
Third, inflection and emphasis. The appropriate inflection communicates the correct emotion and sends the right message. If you get this wrong you can easily send the wrong message to someone. I remember being at a wedding where one of the guests showed up in a leather suit, a full leather suit, which impressed my cosmopolitan aunt. She proclaimed in her very best Queen's English, "Leather." Well, nobody thought that from a distance hearing this, she was being complementary at all.
To best demonstrate emotion, let's see if you can guess what I'm communicating with each statement. "I can do that." "I can do that." "I can do that." "I can do that." "I can do that." Overall tone is as important as word emphasis. Where you place your tone in a sentence is critical to the message you're trying to send.
Again, what does each word emphasis communicate. Listen to me repeat the same sentence a few times. "I don't think you should go." I'm communicating what I think, it's my opinion. "I don't think you should go." That means I disagree. "I don't think you should go." Well, I'm not sure but that's what I think. "I don't think you should go." Well clearly here I'm saying, you shouldn't be the one to go let somebody else go.
"I don't think you should go." You shouldn't be obligated to go that's what I'm communicating there. "I don't think you should go." You shouldn't go but maybe you can be involved in another way. Finally, articulate for success. When the internet first emerged into the workplace and was called the world wide web. What a tongue twister. But a good reminder that you have to practice clear articulation if you want to find your best voice.
Before you start with some of these articulation practice lines, stretch and relax your facial muscles by doing the lion. Big mouth. Warm up your jaw by saying, "Round and round." And work your articulation much more than you would in daily conversation. Over articulating is something you should definitely do if you're speaking in public. Practice by saying, "Up and down", and warm up your vocal cords like a singer sing along, la la la.
Now the muscles and cords are warmed up, it's time for some tongue twisters. Record yourself saying these. Stand and project them, and repeat several times in a row. Get some feedback on clarity and articulation. I saw Susie sitting in a shoeshine shop. Roberta ran rings around the Roman ruins. How many cookies could a good cook cook, if a good cook could cook cookies? Where she sits she shines, and where she shines she sits.
Finding your best voice will not happen overnight. Some things you can continue to do after this movie, is record yourself so that you can go back and listen to and get feedback from trusted others. Practice standing and seated. Smile if you tend to sound too serious. Read children stories to your kids, if you are told that you are too monotonous. Keep working on sounding natural. With the right pitch, volume, inflection, and articulation, to cultivate your best speaking voice.
- Understanding introversion and extroversion
- Persuading people
- Negotiating your needs
- Making small talk
- Saying no
- And more…
Skill Level Appropriate for all
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
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