The sound of our voice makes a huge impression on others. In fact, the way we speak matters twice as much as what we’re actually saying.
For example, voices that are rough, strained, or breathy tend to be labeled weak, or tense.
While voices that are steady and strong are considered successful, sociable, and smart. According to the Journal of Voice, we’re hardwired to judge people – it’s something we do instantaneously and subconsciously. And when we hear someone speak, the first thing we do is form an opinion about them.
Unfortunately, a lot of us have vocal habits that can be off-putting or even annoying – and we have no idea because we hear our voice through the bones in our head – which makes our voice sound deeper and more resonant than it really is.
But whether we have a screechy, nasal voice like Marge Simpson, a baby voice like Marilyn Monroe, or a monotone like Clint Eastwood - voice therapy, breathing exercises and muscle-strengthening exercises can help us sound less annoying.
Jane Latz is a speech pathologist – and here are a few of the techniques she uses on her patients – that we can use for vocal improvement:
First: If you have a habit of using filler words like “um,” “like,” and “you know” - pause instead. It serves the same purpose – by giving you time to think. But it’s less annoying – and removes vocal clutter.
Another speaking tip: If your voice lacks volume, sounds squeaky, or seems tense – try humming for a few minutes every day. Then transition to opening your mouth, and saying “ah.” The sound you hear is the natural pitch of your voice. Try that for 5 minutes a day for two weeks, your voice will be naturally lower.
And speech pathologist Jane Latz suggests doing something that I actually did when I was starting out in radio. Pick someone else’s voice to emulate. For example, record your favorite newscaster, then mimic their rhythms, pace, and intonations.