Let’s make the most out of an often overlooked resource – Your voice.
A Great Voice –The Benefits
Put simply – There will be a positive earnings dividend for those who work on their voice and develop its melodic capabilities to the max. And, I am not talking about winning a TV talent show. Customers and clients would rather listen to a pleasant, sonorous voice that a scratchy, squeaky weaker one. They will stay longer, learn more from you, and, even AGREE with what you are saying!
***A silly example – I have a friend in London and we do a little business together occasionally. I left a message on her answer phone one time, and, the next day, we spoke. She seemed amused and excited as told me, she must share a funny conversation she had had with her assistant – Her assistant (having only heard my brief message and never actually met me) said, “Wow – Who is Matthew? I would marry him! It would be so nice to have a husband that sounded like that.” – The power of the voice.***
We know from Hollywood films, talent shows and magazines that beauty converts into wealth and opportunity. Physical beauty. What is less considered is that having a beautiful voice can work in the same way.
And developing your voice takes less time and money than optimising your looks!
Differentiation – Identity and confidence develop from owning what you have, accepting your talents and features, and, making the best of your assets.
Again, the voice is special because it can be trained, enhanced and improved to make more of an impact, a better impression and work to bring you advantage.
Brand – You might now contemplate shifting the emphasis of your self-marketing efforts if you are starting off with a voice quality of more than 6 out of 10. And, here’s why.
Remember this is where you start – With work, everybody can move up a level in resonance, eloquence and projection. Imagine where you could be in just 100 day’s time. Your voice could be the winning factor in getting promoted, being chosen for a high status project, or, being asked to represent your company at a luxury overseas event. It can be worth its weight in gold (or salary increases, plane tickets and positive attention.)
Character – What does your voice, say about you now? I am guessing that, unless you have a naturally different voice – high or low, rich or reedy, no one, including yourself, had given it too much thought.
Think about radio casting – They super-listen to the tone, timbre, range, richness and resonance of an actor’s voice, as well as their articulation, eloquence, diction and accent, when casting for radio plays or when searching for a new presenter.
Does your voice speak well of you? Does it project trust, energy, dynamism, certainty, authority, playful fun, professionalism, charm, character, or maybe, flirtatious excitement?
Or, do you want it to?
Attention and Commands – ***Another silly Matthew story about voice (and gender.) I was the only Dad helping out on a primary school trip, with my youngest son, as we visited a museum in London. The two-stage plan was to have a picnic lunch in the park next to the institution, and then, go in and look around. We had only just sat on the grass and unpacked our boxes of juice, crisps and sandwiches when, splattering drops of rain were detected by the children.
In my mind on that day and in those circumstances, I saw myself as a low-status, back of the queue, volunteer, with no say in what would happen next. I spoke simply to add options to the discussion, wishing to contribute a single idea for what we might do next with the soggy children.
“Maybe, we could all move under that big tree.” My voice was confident but my tone was not commanding or bossy. Guess what happened next? EVERYBODY, instantly got up and began to move towards the tree. Wow. The power of voice (with a side order of gender.)***
Vote – My wish for you is that you have a vote and gain a voice – In the sense of being heard amongst the discussion and thus win yourself a valid and equal seat at the decision-making table.
I believe that your voice can represent your power.
Show and Tell – Continuing on the theme of children, schools now have pupils bring in objects and tell the class about them. They promote debate and discussion and put everyone into the school play. Show and tell is the new normal. That did not happen in my day and, I feel there is a whole generation (mine) now at risk of being overtaken by natural talent from below! Now is the time for action people…before it is too late.
Voice – The first thing we can do is sing out – In the shower, at a karaoke bar, at the football, or, around the tree at Christmas. “Where do I start?” I hear you say. Get on to YouTube and pick your favourite song and play the YT clip that includes the lyrics – Bohemian Rhapsody, here you come. Or, get a singing teacher. I lost my voice a couple of times when giving all-day coaching sessions to senior executives for the UK’s largest company, and thought – this cannot go on.
Finding the wonderful singing teacher, Rachel Tate, she taught me how to breath, sing scales, project, remember words and really go for it – “Strong and wrong is better than light and right!” Great times. I now have a Heineken voice – It can reach the places that other voices cannot.
Emphasis – Top Tip Time – There are some great OVER actors that are fabulous for teaching emphasis and drama. Perfect for the meek and mild person, told by their mother, to keep quiet and only speak when spoken to. My all time favourite over-actor is Al Pacino – Never a syllable whispered! Watching larger than life thezzers (actors), will help you prepare to over do it. Remember, when you broadcast at 120% power, only 100% will land. Any less and the audience will feel short changed. Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close and Kathy Bates also come to mind (Yes, the 1980’s were the best time to be alive folks.)
Silence and Spaces – Counterintuitive as it seems – You can increase the majesty of your voice by spacing out the words, inserting silence in between each gem, to act as punctuation. This allows your audience to really hear what you have to say. Done well, this will add AUTHORITY to your persona, dignity to your speech and differentiate you from the competition.
Don’t forget to BREATHE. In my presentation skills classes, I like to amuse myself by asking the delegates to, “Just breathe in and out”. You would swear that some of them have lungs in their shoulders – Up they go in a contorted and awful mime of someone with emphysema – I shouldn’t laugh.
Breathing is about pulling down your huge, disk-like diaphragm to create a vacuum that, in turn, draws air down into your lungs – All 5 lobes of them.
When you breathe, let your diaphragm move down and your stomach move out, to draw in a deep breath. Test yourself. Draw in a deep breath and then, with control, count out loud, one number every second or so. 1,2,3,4,5 etc. If you can’t get to 10 – Quickly telephone for an emergency singing teacher to give you an urgent lesson! If you can get to 17 to 25, you are normal but can greatly improve. If you reach 30 to 40, you are already a great breather. And, around 45 to 50 – You have been hitting the gym or the field – Great job.
Warm up – Be careful with this instrument as it can be damaged or broken – Don’t smoke, drink too many spirits or talk loudly without a good warm up. All these crimes will shorten the life of your best voice. I meet plenty of people in a year who have lost the full potential of their voice through damaging habits.
Anger is bad for the voice[/caption]
***Practice your arpeggios (look that up on YouTube and join in), have a go at deep breathing, twice a day, and, record yourself on your phone, either singing or speaking. Once you are past cringing at the awful and bizarre sound that is your voice (“OMG – Do I really sound like that?”), you can start to make rapid and impressive progress.***
Monotone is monotonous – I work with many managers and directors, most of whom are relatively unaware of the undeveloped nature of their voices. Over 3 days, we work intensively on their intonation and voice quality. The results at the end are little short of miraculous. The drone becomes the doyen. Really. So, should you be investing in your voice asset?
In conclusion – There are any number of things you can do to improve the quality of you voice and deliver a more beautiful message, so, giving yourself the chance to progress in your career, have people listen harder and longer to your story, and, experience people liking you more, trusting you more, and even, following you under a big tree when it starts to rain.
I wish you all the best with your voice development work and the rewards you will experience as a result of investing in this, your most wonderful hidden asset.
About the Author – Matthew Hill is a presentation skills trainer and coach as well as a choir singer, former trumpeter, keynote speaker and Master of Ceremonies. To contact him and find out more about his half-day, one-day and three-day presentation skills courses, please, send a short E Mail to, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07540 65 9995.