Becoming a Better Communicator-- It's Never Too Late to Learn
Frequently the first question people ask when they come to my office is “Can I really change my voice?” or “Is it really possible to change the way I talk?” The answer I typically offer is, “You absolutely can— with good instruction and diligent practice.”
You have a unique relationship with the sound of your own voice. After all, the word “personality” has roots in both “per” (through) and “sona” (sound). You are the sound of your voice. Our voices and speaking patterns are partly determined by anatomy, language history, sex, and age, but they are also shaped by habits and psychological factors. Some habits we’ve picked up were conscious, and others unconscious. It is natural that when you speak, it will be in the way in which you heard yourself speaking yesterday. You can use the same sound memory to help lead you out of a problem. Practicing new ways of making sounds not only teaches you how to do it— it also tells the brain, repeatedly, this is how I sound. This is the voice I want, and when I get off track, this is the way to get back.
Once you have determined what it is you are uncomfortable with regarding your voice and speech, you need to address it in a way that makes sense. A general idea about an outcome, especially if idealized, will not work. A well-planned program that addresses your needs, with clearly delineated goals, steps, and strategies, does. There is nothing more important than deliberate practice in behavioral development. Your attention must be completely involved in the learning and the improvement you are trying to make. Motivation helps you focus completely on your task. If you understand the physical and psychological factors that are at play, you are better equipped to address change.
The discipline of practice is an art. Any new skill or habit takes time to learn. A few swipes at a new behavior will have virtually no effect, and changing something as ingrained and personal as the way we speak takes curiosity, patience, courage, and perseverance.
I have never had a client regret the work she or he did in order to achieve a more effective vocal communication style. It is my belief that when you feel at peace and comfortable with the way you are communicating, the quality of your life increases in ways you may not have even been expecting. You will find that your “self” has more than what it takes to genuinely express the different parts of your personality. Learning to sound the way you want in business, socially, and when presenting can make all the difference in the world. Exploring your voice may even teach you things you didn’t know about yourself, or had forgotten.