There is no doubt that when I write about volume, I talk more about the soft-spoken voice because lack of volume is much more common than too much. Those who are too loud, however, are just as difficult for the listener as the former. A loud voice is hard on your listeners’ ears. There is nothing more frustrating for those on a cell or a landline who must move the receiver away from their ear.
Another problem with volume is that it may label you incorrectly. One word that comes to mind is overbearing although there are a number of other adjectives that could be used as well including obnoxious, arrogant, and domineering.
If you have been told to speak more softly or have been shushed in the past, you might consider voice training to learn how to control your volume. Your inner ear has been most comfortable with your loud voice; and, it may be difficult for you to ‘hear’ that your volume is offensive to others.
In most cases, the loud voice is being pushed hard from the voice box and throat. It is even possible that you may be powering your sound by means of your nasal cavities which most definitely leads to a strident or shrill sound.
When I work with volume, I explain that a larger volume does not need to be loud, just bigger. Loud hurts your ears. A voice that is projected properly, however, does not. Were James Earl Jones to speak with a big voice in a close proximity, it would not hurt your ears. Were Fran Drescher in her role as The Nanny to increase her volume, you would run for cover!
Learning how to speak with less volume requires:
1. retraining your inner ear to acknowledge and accept less volume; and,
2. using your chest cavity to power your voice.
Most people are unaware of and not using their chest cavity as a source of vocal power. (Newborns and opera singers are.) The voice box, throat, nose and mouth are 4 of the 5 cavities that the majority of the population relies on for voiced sound. The one that is missing is the chest. Once that cavity becomes involved, the results are amazing. For the loud individual, the change is striking because the voice loses its harsh and strident edges and takes on a wonderfully warm, rich quality that is, in most cases, deeper in pitch.
Learn to place your voice properly and I guarantee that no one will ever tell you to shush or speak softly again!