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Voice

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In my work as a speech and voice coach, here are the top 10 reasons people have for not liking the way that their voices sound:

Men Who Don’t Like The Way Their Voices Sound…

  1. Voice not deep enough (sounds too feminine)
  2. Voice lacks gravitas  (sounds unconfident)
  3. Voice not loud enough (sounds unconfident)
  4. Voice is overly nasal (sounds nerdy)
  5. Voice is monotone (sounds boring)

Women Who Don’t Like The Way Their Voices Sound…

  1. Voice is shrill (sounds unpleasant)
  2. Voice is manly (sounds overly deep)
  3. Voice is squeaky (sounds too high pitched)
  4. Voice has mucus (sounds unhealthy)
  5. Voice is damaged by smoking (sounds unhealthy)

For my help improving the way your voice sounds, check out my Best Voice Profile service.

The famous scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth where the witches stir up a potion (Act 4, Scene 1): ‘Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble’. My version is not the original text of Shakespeare’s play; it is a slight adaptation of Roman Polanski’s film version (1971).

The witches of Macbeth are supposed to evoke a strong sense of disgust in us. Since the witches are ‘low characters’ in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, I have chosen not to speak in clear ‘Shakespearean English’ to deliver these lines.

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Macbeth / Roman Polanski Witches Script:

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes

Hahahaha!

[how now you secret, black and midnight hags – what is to do!]

A deed without a name

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights had thirty-one

Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charm’ed pot.

Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,

Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,

Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
Severed in the moon’s eclipse

Fillet of a fenny snake,
Into the cauldron boil and bake;

Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Voice acting to tell you ‘The Story of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles’ by Jethro Tull. The accent I am speaking in is a mixture of Northern English dialects combined with voice acting/theatrical emphasis. This one might be hard for you to understand if you are not a native speaker of English, therefore this performance has subtitles/captions enabled.

Lyrics to ‘The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles’

Owl loved to rest quietly whilst no one was watching
Sitting on a fence one day, he was surprised when suddenly a kangaroo ran close by
Now this may not seem strange, but when Owl overheard Kangaroo whisper to no one in particular,”The hare has lost his spectacles,” well, he began to wonder…

Presently, the moon appeared from behind a cloud and there, lying on the grass was hare
In the stream that flowed by the grass a newt
And sitting astride a twig of a bush a bee
Ostensibly motionless, the hare was trembling with excitement
For without his spectacles he appeared completely helpless
Where were his spectacles? Could someone have stolen them?
Had he mislaid them? What was he to do?
Bee wanted to help, and thinking he had the answer began:
“You probably ate them thinking they were a carrot.”
“No!” interrupted Owl, who was wise
“I have good eye-sight, insight, and foresight
How could an intelligent hare make such a silly mistake?”
But all this time, Owl had been sitting on the fence, scowling!
A Kangaroo were hopping mad at this sort of talk
She thought herself far superior in intelligence to the others
She was their leader, their guru. She had the answer:
“Hare, you must go in search of the optician.”
But then she realized that Hare was completely helpless without his spectacles
And so, Kangaroo loudly proclaimed, “I can’t send Hare in search of anything!”
“You can guru, you can!” shouted Newt
“You can send him with Owl.”
But Owl had gone to sleep
Newt knew too much to be stopped by so small a problem
“You can take him in your pouch.”
But alas, Hare was much too big to fit into Kangaroo’s pouch
All this time, it had been quite plain to hare that the others knew nothing about spectacles

As for all their tempting ideas, well Hare didn’t care
The lost spectacles were his own affair
And after all, Hare did have a spare a-pair.

Voice recording tips: how to get a more professional and clear result from your voice when you record.

“Floppy, gloopy voice” is when the voice sounds disharmonious and the tones of your voice are out of tune. It can sound mucusy and the transition between the tones will sound off key. There may also be the sensation of the voice getting stuck. I explain how to avoid having an unclear voice in your audio recordings. Follow this advice to make your voice sound at its best next time you record. This video also explains what causes the voice to sound stuck and disharmonious and the people it tends to affect most.

I did a really fun and funny interview with hosts Jay-Jay, Dom and Randell from New Zealand’s biggest breakfast radio show. We talk about what makes a seductive, sexy voice. Listen to a three minute clip of our chat by clicking the player below:

Spasmodic dysphonia is a speech disorder where the voice cuts out. What happens from a medical perspective is that the voice box and/or glottis spasms while the person is speaking. A example of a person speaking with a mild case of spasmodic dysphonia can be heard in the video below:

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What I picked up from Sara’s voice is that there is a lot of forcing in it in the sense that she is watching and scrutinising every sound that escapes her mouth. The tones of her voice are warm and resonant but there is also something forced about these tones for the situation she is in. The tones in her voice would better fit the situation of reassuring a loved one who was sick in hospital. She says in the video that speech therapists gave her the advice to speak from her head and to raise her tone so that she can avoid the voice breaking. This may be the standard advice for treating spasmodic dysphonia for all I know, but from my perspective this advice would more likely lead to escalation of the problem.

The problem of Sara being in her head is in my opinion the leading cause of the spasmodic dysphonia. Sara is so much her head that she watches and interrupts every sound that flows from her mouth. By watching herself in this way Sara tries to force her voice to sound a certain way. However, I can speak from experience here by saying that whenever you watch any body process intently for a period of time it leads to obsessive anxiety and the problem gets worse and worse. The more you watch; the worse the problem gets. So I would say that healing lies not only in coming down out of her head to the extent that she can stop watching every sound, but it also lies in accepting her voice as it is, including the fact that it sometimes cuts out. Sara needs to learn to allow her voice to be how it is, without forcing it to be something it is not.

Our voices when in harmony with ourselves are joyful instruments of self-expression. A free voice is not one that is watched, judged and corrected all the time. It’s one that sounds how it sounds, depending on the situation. It’s not a constant ‘friendly’ or polite tone of voice. Sometimes it may be flat; sometimes it may be soft and whispery. The free voice is always changing and is allowed to change without a guard starting over and judging it’s every move. The voice is free to express itself in different ways as befits the moment. If the voice doesn’t know how to be free in the moment, then neither can the person be free in the moment, I would say.

MY ADVICE FOR SPASMODIC DYSPHONIA: Since there appears to be an uneasy relationship to the voice and the seat of self-expression in a person with spasmodic dysphonia, healing lies in learning how to enjoy the voice and to lose the fear of it again. Ways of doing this are numerous; for example by singing, talking aloud to yourself, recording yourself making videos; reading poetry; or even going out into nature and shouting out random mad things into the air. Choose any activity or a combination of them that you are most attracted to and practice every day or as often as you can. I would also suggest testing the idea that one’s voice cutting out is wrong or bad – for example by exaggerating the voice cutting out when doing your chosen speech practice.

Finally, I would say to have hope. These strange anxiety disorders may pop up out of nowhere and drive us to distraction for longer than we would like. However, same as they pop up they can disappear again. For them to disappear we need to be flexible and open to making shifts in how we live our lives.

Want to speak sexy and seductive like Kylie Jenner? Click to watch Kylie Jenner’s voice tutorial in the video below:

To speak with a sexy, seductive voice it is first necessary to drop the resonance of your voice. When Kylie Jenner speaks, the resonance comes from the chest and around the heart. This brings soft, nurturing vibrations into the voice.

The intimate quality of Kylie’s voice comes from her breathy way of speaking which has unpredictable, see-sawing rhythms. This has the effect of lulling you to sleep like a baby.

Kylie’s voice would send you to sleep if it was low, soft and breathy all the time. She keeps you aroused and captivated by popping her expression every once in a while. When she pops her expression, it means her voice suddenly takes on a higher pitch and is energised for a sentence or two. These pops generally happen when Kylie is excited about something and wants to draw you in too. Once the moment of excitement passes, Kylie drops back into her seductive and breathy way of speaking.

To get the seductive Kylie Jenner effect another tip is to flash your eyes by opening them wide and boldly staring every once in a while. After the intense moment of eye contact, dip your gaze low and look away.

Lastly, speak gently about how much love you have for the world and your family and your mesmerising powers of seduction will be complete!

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People who tend to feel self-conscious when reading in front of an audience put on a boring voice when reading aloud. The boring and flat tone of voice used by reluctant readers sends everyone listening to sleep! Here are some tips to bring life to your voice next time you find yourself reading aloud in a classroom, work or social situation.

You Gotta ‘Own It’
Due to nerves a lot of people read aloud either too quickly or quietly. When you ‘own’ your reading spotlight, you’re not in a hurry to get your bit over and done with. Occupy space with your voice and take as long as you need.

Punctuation Is Your Friend
When reading aloud the most important thing is that you have enough breath to get through to the next natural pause in the text. Punctuation in a text such as full stops and commas show you where you can next take a breath. Try to avoid taking a deep breath mid sentence as it will disrupt to flow of the text and make it harder for listeners to understand what you are talking about. Scan a little ahead of where you are reading to see where your next pause is. Then, when you get there, don’t forget to breathe!

Make The Words Dance
Your job as narrator is to bring life to the text and to indicate the important parts to the audience. You can do this by varying your voice in different ways as you read. One of the ways you can do this is by placing stress and emphasis on key words and phrases in the text.


 

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Train your Voice with Vocal Exercises

Speaking with your best voice requires voice resonance to be concentrated in the mask area of your face (the area where you would wear an oxygen mask). Voice resonance simply means the vibrations present in the sound of your voice. If you do not currently speak with your best speaking voice, it may be that your voice is too nasal (vibrations coming from the nose) or that you’re speaking from your throat. In both cases you can increase the amount of resonance within the mask area by doing the following vocal training exercise.

The Bee Voice Exercise

1. Begin by making the sound of the bee. As you move your hand around, feel as if you are pushing out your resonance/vibrations to the position of the bee. See what it feels like as the bee flies around your body. Ask yourself how the vibrations feel different as you change the location of the bee.

2. Change the pitch of the bee from high to low. As you do this pay attention to how the vibrations you feel in your body change too. It may help to move your hand and eyes up when doing a high pitch, and down again to do a low pitch.

3. See what happens when you experiment with resonance inside your body. What’s it like when the bee is inside your mouth? What’s it like when the bee is inside your chest?

4. Fly the bee around your mask area. Make the vibrations you feel here as strong as possible. When you are speaking in your best speaking voice, you will be able to feel strong resonance here.

5. The most resonant sounds are /m/ /n/ /b/ and /v/. Exaggerate the resonant sounds in the following sentences:

I am a busy bee
My voice is yummy honey
Be happy bee.

Get a Grounded, Richly Resonant Voice

To set free your inner voice try this voice training exercise from the Method School of Acting, which would have been practised by actors like Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino. The idea of this exercise is to develop a voice that is deeply grounded in the body, carrying with it a deep, powerful resonance. A grounded voice voice is rich and deep – that’s very different to a voice that resonates in the head, which is like a nerd voice.

Let Your Inner Voice Out – Voice Exercise:

  1. Sit in a chair and lean back so that your neck hangs at the back over the chair.
  2. Roll your neck, shoulders, waist and circle your legs.
  3. As you make the circlular undulating movements say ‘ahhh’ with your voice as deep down in your body as you can.
  4. Whenever you feel the energy build up and you want to release say ‘ha!’

You should continue the exercise for around 15 minutes.

The exercise will deeply relax you therefore it is good to energize yourself after with some body patting up and down your legs, waist and arms.

Show your Passion with your Voice

To be dynamic and charismatic people we need voices that show that we are engaged with life and that we communicate our desires to people. This means that we have energy and also a full range of expression in the voice. Benjamin’s dynamic voice training exercise shows you how you can bring passion to your voice like a Shakespearean actor.

Benjamin recommends using famous lines from Shakespeare because the characters are in extreme situations. This means that we can be dramatic and passionate when performing the lines. In his exercise we see how the same line can be read in a number of ways to show different feelings. With Benjamin’s instruction, I am shown how to bring dynamism to the line in different ways through experiment with tone of voice. We should then bring this dynamism to our everyday speech to make a dynamic impression.