Come on a quick journey down memory lane with me for a few moments. When was the first time you had to speak to a large group? For most, it was in school during project presentations or a public speaking class. Some individuals appeared to be born speakers and others struggled to find their own voice. If you were one of the ones who struggled and didn’t work to improve your speaking voice, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that you still have difficulty speaking now that you are in your career.
When you have visible voice issues, your path to success is hindered. You will come across as someone who lacks confidence among your co-workers, upper management, and social circle. While that may not be the case, the image, similar to body language, you display to the world is all that most people will ever see. Those who are incredibly close to you may know you are incredibly confident, but those on the outskirts of your social playing field will never learn this. That is, unless you improve the way you speak.
Many individuals who struggle to speak in front of groups of people suffer from social anxiety disorder (SAD). They come across as quiet with weak-sound words and quite a bit of mumbling. For those who suffer from SAD, when asked to speak, they unintentionally give the impression through their voice that they want to be left alone. Whether it be through the quiver in their voice or their monotone speech, these individuals fail to invoke confidence and clarity.
Natural born speakers are regarded as confident because of their speaking voice. Even if they are uneducated in the topic they speak about, many in the crowd would believe them because of their voice. These public speakers tend to have a voice that is pleasant and warm. It exudes strength and rich, varied tones. Their words are clear and articulated because their speaking rate is precisely on point. With high self-esteem, they are confident enough to bring their personality into their speech.
Anyone can be a confident speaker with the right mindset and effort, even those who suffer from SAD. We will cover how you can improve your speaking voice in this blog and begin to appear as confident as your peers.
Reasons for Voice Issues
What determines the quality of your voice? Voice issues are either due to physical or psychological reasons. Both types of voice issues can be fixed over time, but each type of issue has its own causes and remedies.
Physical issues typically present themselves earlier in life. The most common are weak vocal cords and respiratory conditions. Without strong vocal chords, your voice cannot carry any great distance. This can make it difficult to speak to a crowd. When it comes to respiratory conditions, the inability to intake enough oxygen and release carbon dioxide will make it difficult to speak for any length of time. A less common condition occurs over the course of a lifetime. Those who do not speak to people often will weaken their vocal chords over time due to their lack of use.
Psychological reasons can cause voice issues at any point in one’s life. Most of these stem from a lack of confidence in themselves or what they are saying. Most common is anxiety, which causes a low tone of voice and fast paced speaking that is difficult to understand. Another common reason is depression, which comes from the low energy mindset one falls in when they begin to suffer from their negative thoughts. Other reasons include speaking quietly to get someone to leave you alone. This method, if repeated too often, may eventually become one’s way of speaking.
In addition, some individuals simply come from quiet families who talk with a soft voice. No one talks loudly, which causes issues in the outside world that is full of hustle, bustle, and loud noises.
Effects of not Having a Powerful Voice
A powerful voice is one that is clear and heard by many in the surrounding area. Whether it is a small office meeting or a large conference hall, a powerful voice will carry sound where it needs to go without risking the clarity or tone of the message.
A low, quiet voice sound can impact your professional and personal relationships in the following ways:
- Communication is constantly inhibited.
- Your thoughts are not heard.
- Individuals easily speak over you.
- Peers will ask you to repeat yourself, which can lead to embarrassment.
- You experience increased hesitance with socializing in the future.
- Some people believe that meek, apprehensive individuals aren’t worth knowing.
- Your confidence will diminish overtime.
To be successful in the workplace and to build strong personal relationships, you need to be able to speak and be heard.
4 Common Voice Levels
Psychologists and linguists alike agree that there is a head voice and a chest voice. However, through further research, one professor determined there are four distinct voice levels, not just two:
- Nasal Voice: high pitched voice comes from the nose
- Mouth Voice: you speak often, but you are not heard very well
- Chest Voice: individuals are heard and offer enough tone to be interesting
- Diaphragm Voice: speakers command attention and people want to list to the pleasant, attractive words that come from your mouth
The diaphragm voice is most often associated with great leaders whereas nasal voice is typically found in those who suffer from SAD or depression. Anyone of any voice type can always improve their voice sound and become better speakers, even those with diaphragm voice. Speech is a lifelong skill that should be worked on often.
Tips to Improve Your Voice
When you understand what type of voice you use in your day-to-day conversations and in large presentations, you can better understand what tips you need to implement to improve your voice sound and become a more confident speaker.
Consider some of the following tips and vocal exercises that will help you improve your vocal cords and speaking voice:
- Improve your posture so your lungs can fill up properly. This will improve your voice quality.
- Consider how fast or slow you speak. The ideal rate is between 120 words to 160 words. Find your rate and work to slow it down or speed it up, depending on your current speech pattern. Take deep breaths as needed to help slow down your delivery.
- Relax your throat. The more relaxed the muscles are, the more pleasant your voice sounds. You wouldn’t run without a proper warm up, so be sure to yawn or massage the throat muscles before a speech.
- Make sure you breathe correctly. You should not shallowly fill your lungs. Breathe from your diaphragm and let your belly rise to have proper breathing practices.
- Don’t have a monotonous voice. Add emotion and personality to your voice when you speak to aid in your conviction and ability to connect with your listeners.
- Be mindful when you speak. Articulate your words and speak with a purpose. If you have difficulty pronouncing words, see a speech therapist and slow down your rate of speech.
- Speak loud enough to be heard. Do not mumble. Be sure to increase your volume for emphasis when necessary.
- It’s well known that people remember the delivery of the speech and not the content. Be natural and build a relationship. If you miss a word, keep going. Most people won’t notice.
- Seek professional help from a voice coach or speech-language pathologist if you truly struggle to improve your speech. Speech, acting, and singing classes can help you strengthen your vocal chords and improve your speaking voice. You will gain confidence overtime and be in tune with the sound of your voice.
This is not a comprehensive list of tips for improving your voice and its strength. Regardless of your speaking ability, continuing to speak in groups of all sizes will create confidence in your ability to have conversations at an appropriate vocal level.
When you speak more clearly and use your optimal voice in everyday conversation, you will feel more confident. With confidence comes a greater image in the minds of those around you. If you desire to move up the ladder in your career, continue to work on how you speak and how confident you portray yourself.
Don’t feel discouraged if you struggle to speak. Not everyone is born a speaker and many individuals struggle with speaking in large groups. Consider trying the aforementioned tips to begin your journey on improving your optimal voice. Remember, professional assistance is a fantastic way to quickly achieve results. Voice, singing, and acting coaches have helped individuals of all skill levels, and they can help you, too
I’m Carol Tuttle, if this helped you, go to caroltuttle.com and take my Stuck Quiz, which leads you to a free Masterclass to help you. I’ve learned the healing process. I’ve put it together in an online website called the Carol Tuttle Healing Center that has over 100 supportive healing videos and I have created healing plans.