Women—Don’t Hold Your Voices Back!
Three Essentials For a Fully Engaged, Powerful Sounding Voice
Transcription for video:
It's Women's History Month, and since women are still judged more harshly by the way we look and the way we speak, I made this video to offer suggestions for ways to feel and sound more powerful and more fully engaged, when you speak.
We respond to the way a voice makes us feel, and we're not always conscious of what a voice is doing or why it makes us feel a certain way.
Whether it's due to cultural influences, ideas about gender and role, or other reasons, many of us tend to hold back a part of our full voices when we speak, and so diminish the impact that we could be making. We may not even be aware that we're doing it.
I'll show you what I mean.
There are 3 critical elements you need to cultivate within your body in order for your voice to be heard and for your message to resonate. And those are space, relaxation, and breath.
- Space: Sound waves need space in order to reverberate--so if you're making any of the major resonating chambers within your body smaller, you're creating a smaller instrument, so you'll produce and send out less sound.
Listen to what I do here:
"I'm speaking with less space in my mouth for sound to resonate."
Did you hear the effect that making the space in my mouth smaller had to the overall delivery of my message? It sounded young or maybe immature.
Now listen to this:
"I'm not opening up my throat when I speak."
Did you notice what that did? It made it sound like I was holding back or that I'm not really confident about what I'm saying.
Closed throat (demonstration)/ Open throat
Last one: "I'm speaking with my chest closed off and small."
What did that do? Did it make me sound less committed to my message or send the impression that I'm not entirely connected to and behind this message?
Closed chest/ Open chest
2. The second thing needed for a full, resonant voice is relaxation, or an absence of tension and a re-direction of energy so that a full, balanced sound is created.
For example, if I'm channeling my vocal energy mainly to my face and my mask, I'm going to end up with a kind of squeezed or tinny sound and when I talk. My voice might become kind of nasal-sounding.
Or if I'm tensing or focusing my energy mainly in my throat I'm going to create a weaker sound. And when I try to make my voice heard, it may come across as though I'm pushing, and my sound may become strident.
Or maybe I am tensing up other parts of my body, especially my torso, which will dampen sound vibrations, and create a less robust sound.
So I've got to figure out where I'm tensing up or focusing too much energy, relax those areas, and re-direct my energy to create a nice balanced voice.
3. The third essential for a clear, comfortable, credible voice is a real and deep connection to your breath. If you think of speech as coming from your mouth or your throat, you're probably not taking full inhalations and you'll end up speaking on less breath. This may cause you to talk too fast, as well.
You want to think of sound as coming from your gut. You breathe down into your gut, which is where you feel the connection to your message.
Breath is the power for speech. The more connected you are to it, the more grounded, calm, and powerful you'll feel and sound.
So, three factors affecting the sound and quality of your voice space, relaxation, and breath.
If you think you may be holding on to habits that are weakening or negatively impacting your vocal presence, do something about it. It will be a game-changer in the way people respond to you and in the way you feel and sound, every time you speak-- and, you'll communicate more fully, comfortably, and appear more credible.
If you're interested in exploring your voice or learning more about the role that voice and speech play in your work and overall well-being, get in touch. Let's talk!
To watch a video of me talking about women's voices with the Eileen Fisher Organization, click here. I start at about minute 8:50.