5 Reasons Your Voice May Be Sabotaging Your Success

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, imitating a whiny, nasal sound in the process.

Image is certainly 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 voice or some other form of recording equipment – not the sound you hear in your head.  Is it possible that you are not getting promoted 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 with enough volume to be heard comfortably the 1st time you say it.  Listeners tire of straining to hear the soft-spoken and they will take over the conversation.

If You Are Loud, You Are Turning Your Listeners Off.  While not as common as the soft-spoken voice, the loud voice has its own problems, the most important of which is that it can hurt your listeners’ ears.   Angie, a lovely middle-aged woman from Texas, came to see me because her colleagues and her boss were always asking her to ‘tone it down.’  What Angie did not realize when she discovered her real voice was that her voice had not only softened in volume but the sound which resulted was remarkable – rich, warm, deeper in pitch and resonant.

Excessive Nasality Is Like Nails on a Blackboard.   Too much nose in speaking is annoying.  Reminiscent of Fran Drescher in The Nanny, Rich was told that he would not get ahead until he did something about his voice so he immediately took steps to solve the problem.   When he discovered his real voice, the change was so dramatic that he was offered a position in project management, a huge jump from his prior job function.  His boss remarked, “I feel as if you have matured 10 years.”

How Good Is Your Diction?  Whether you are from Texas, Toronto or Timbuctoo, 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 making the change, he remarked that it was worth driving through a snowstorm from Ohio to New Jersey to solve his problem.

Instead of trying to solve each problem with a particular exercise, all 5 people were taught the exact same technique:  to speak within their optimum pitch range and use their chest cavity to power and amplify the voice.   Most people are not aware of and not using their chest cavity in this manner, 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 soft volume to a normal level;
  3. a decrease of the loud volume to a normal level;
  4. the elimination of nasality; and,
  5. improved articulation.

Others who produce their sound correctly include James Earl Jones, Sean Connery, Kate Beckinsale, Ashley Judd, George Clooney, and Felicia Rashad.

As Kathleen Turner said to 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.

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Want to Boost Your Confidence? Voice Training Is the Answer

While teaching voice improvement at the University of Western Ontario back in the ‘80’s (oh, was it really that long ago?), I discovered a lot of wonderful voices among the graduate students of journalism. It was during those 4 years that I realized that voice training was not just for journalism students – voice training was something for everyone.

Since 99% of the population is not breathing correctly nor using their chest cavity (the largest of their vocal resonators) to produce voiced sound, I knew a business in voice improvement was justified and necessary.

Admittedly, my goal in the beginning was sound. As one who is highly ‘attuned’ to auditory stimuli, I wanted everyone to discover their optimum voice. And, through all these years and thousands of clients, I have seen and heard wonderful results. Everyone – and I mean everyone – has a richer, warmer, deeper voice inside of them once they learn to breathe with the support of their diaphragm and use their chest cavity as their primary sounding board.

While my goal for my clients is a more mature sound, were I to poll those clients, they would respond that the increase in their self-esteem is one of the greatest benefits of voice training. You can see it in their ‘before & after’ video clips. Their posture improves; they stand taller; and, they look and feel more confident. As my visual stimuli is sometimes lacking, it took a few months after starting my business before I ‘saw’ the difference. We had been watching a client’s video and she mentioned how much better she looked in her ‘after’ recording. I was stunned!

Why hadn’t I noticed this when I was teaching at UWO? Because I was using audio. It wasn’t until I started my business that I switched to video.

Whether you choose to find your ‘real’ voice by means of my Voicing it! DVDs or you would prefer to work with me in a 2-day workshop, you will discover your true voice.

Not only will you will sound better,
but you will look better, and,
you most definitely will feel better about yourself!

Watch Craig’s brief ‘before’ and ‘after’ video clip on my home page and see if you don’t agree.

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3 Steps to Eliminate Body Tics in Public Speaking

I just saw an interesting video  in which the speaker used the exact same round arm movements with every statement he made.  This young man had made a video for his business and wanted to know more about my business so I told him what I did and also told him about his repetitive arm movement.  I call it a body tic.

When we use the words ‘Um’ or ‘Ah’ throughout our discourse, we refer to them as verbal tics.  Using your arms in a repetitive fashion is a type of tic as well and might be called a body tic.  I also consider pacing back and forth on a stage in a repetitive manner a body tic.

I am all in favor of good body language while presenting; however, the problem with the verbal tic or the body tic is that we focus on the tic and not on the message.   And, in some cases we begin to count.

So how do we get rid of the tic?

  • First, you must be aware that you are doing it.  If you are video recording yourself for YouTube or your website, for example, you must study the playback.  And, I mean study it before you publish it.

Listen to yourself, watch yourself, and then work on what needs improvement.  If you are selling your services in some fashion, either through your website, on a stage, or in a webinar, you are being judged.  Your goal is to project professionalism which helps establish your credibility and your authority in what you are doing.

  • Hit the pause button.  I am serious!

While you are practicing, take note of what you are doing with your hands as you speak.  If they’re moving in the same direction or if you are pacing back and forth, continue to talk, but stop the movement.  Stand still for a couple of second or don’t move your arms for a few seconds: just let them hang.

  • Then use just one arm for a change or place your arms behind your back or put a hand in your pocket or hold a pen.  Do it differently.  if you’ve been pacing, try moving in the opposite direction when you resume walking.

Admittedly, any type of movement is better than none; however, you can beat this and become a better presenter which is better for you and your audience.

If you are interested in honing your presentation skills and discovering your richer, warmer, deeper voice in the process, join me in Myrtle Beach, April 28 & 29 for my next Voice & Presentation Skills Workshop.

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Is Your Soft-Spoken Voice Holding You Back?

hWhen you look at your strengths and weaknesses, have you ever considered that your soft-spoken voice is not a strength but indeed a weakness? If others cannot hear you, your message is not being received.

Volume is a very tricky dynamic. A voice that is too loud is offensive, overbearing and uncomfortable for your listeners’ ears. One that is too soft, on the other hand, screams timidity, lack of confidence, and insecurity.

  • For the majority of those who use an incorrect amount of volume, being too loud is not the problem – being too soft is.

This problem is not an easy one to solve without dedication and a desire to make the change. When I work with others in voice training, they find that discovering their ‘real’ voice is surprisingly simple, basic and fundamental. And, their inner ear is most accommodating – it enjoys the richer, warmer, deeper sound. When I work with those who speak too softly, however, their inner ear revolts.

Your inner ear is best described as how you hear yourself when you speak. Your outer ear, which is how you recognize other people’s voices, is unable to hear your own voice as others do. This is why you are shocked, disgusted or even embarrassed when you hear your voice on an answering machine or some other form of recording equipment: you do not recognize that sound.

Because your inner ear is most comfortable with your soft-spoken level, when you try to increase your volume, your inner ear will tell you that you are shouting. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, the only way you will convince your inner ear to accept an increase in volume is to record both your voice and that of someone else who is speaking at a normal volume level. Play it back at a comfortable listening level and compare the two voices. Who sounds normal and who does not?

Today, the pressure to make the best impression possible to your boss, your prospective clients and even to your colleagues is on-going. If you are not being heard, however, what impression are you sending? While you may not be shy, timid or lacking in confidence, your voice may be saying that you are. That is not the image you want to project if you are determined to be successful in your career.

There are only so many times others will ask you to repeat yourself before they will take over the conversation. When that happens, your words of wisdom are meaningless. If you expect others to understand and appreciate your message, they must be first be able to hear you say it!

Soft Spoken

Watch as Nancy describes Your Volume Control

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Uptalk: A Part of Women’s Nature – Really?

We hear it every day. We hear it on news stations both on radio and TV. We hear it in conversation. We hear it at work. And, it is driving me crazy! You may do it yourself and not know it. What am I talking about? Uptalk or as I’ve described it in the past – the Valley Girl sound.

Uptalk is a manner of speaking in which you place an upward inflection on the last word of a declarative statement, making that statement sound like a question. It is interesting that the Urban Dictionary says it is common among teens and surfers. Certainly in the ‘90’s that was true. Today, however, uptalk is common among teens as well as those in their 20’s, 30’s, and ‘40’s.

Uptalk gives the impression to your listener that you are unsure of yourself.

In researching uptalk, I found an article in the monthly magazine, The Atlantic, in which Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, said that uptalk is part of a woman’s nature. Part of a woman’s nature? I don’t think so.

I had never heard uptalk in normal conversation from either my clients or those being interviewed by the media until 10 – 12 years ago. However, I have been writing about uptalk in regards to the personal introduction since I started my business in 1989. During business meetings, when people would introduce themselves, every statement in their intro sounded like a question. (And that was before Beverly Hills, 90210!)

No, uptalk is not part of a woman’s nature or else we wouldn’t see the rise of it among men. Uptalk is a habit. A habit that teens started in the 90’s and continued as they went through college and into the workforce. That is why we are hearing so much of it today.

Gillibrand further stated that women speak this way because they want to be ‘well-liked.’ I don’t agree. It started back in the 90’s because teenage girls thought it sounded cute and surfers thought it cool. And then it became a habit.

From my experience, the majority of adults who speak in this manner are not aware of it. At one of my recent voice & presentation skills workshops, a woman in the group told us that her colleagues had complained about her delivery, in particular, her uptalk. She was unaware of it. Once Bora heard herself on video, however, she recognized the problem and started finishing her statements on the ‘down swing’ instead of the ‘up.’

The best way to find out how you end your sentences is to record yourself in conversation and study the playback. If you are finishing your statements on the upswing, you can change this habit.

  • Focus listening to your speech when you talk.
  • Begin training your inner ear to recognize the sound. (Your inner ear is how you hear your voice in your head.)
  • Practice making statements and moving the pitch of your voice down as you finish your statements.

Example: He went to the store.

Once you are comfortable with the above sentence and are able to say those 5 words as a statement, ask it as a question:

Example: He went to the store?

Go back and forth between question and statement, training your ear to recognize the difference.

With practice, you can end the uptalk.  You will sound more confident and look and feel more confident in the process!

 

If you would like to discover your ‘real’ voice, join me at my next Voice & Presentation Skills Workshop, February 17 & 18, Mt Laurel, NJ

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