Different Voice Types and the Message They Give
If you’ve followed me at all, I know you’ve heard me say the voice is the missing link, products don’t sell voices do, the words are everything and they are nothing…and a number of other sayings that I believe are very, very true. I recently wrote an article about perception, the perception of what you think you are putting out to the audience in presentations vs. what they are receiving. Today, I’d like to take that to another level and talk about subtleties of you voice, patterns and problems that you’ve possibly laid into your muscle memory and don’t even know it. The problem, the voice you’ve laid in, created, could be a big part of why you aren’t making the impact on others you have hopes and dreams to make.
One of the most fascinating parts of my work is when I point out a vocal pattern to one of my clients. The majority of people I’ve worked with over the years have no idea that they even have a vocal pattern. We pick up vocal patterns by listening to others and this can be in the form of an accent or something else. One time I worked with an actress who came to me because she was very nasal. We discovered as we worked together that she had only started talking that way in high school when she started mimicking one of the “cool” girls who had a more nasal voice.
Some patterns and voice jags can be a bit repelling to the audience and at the very least can create a barrier from connection. What I mean by this, simple, the audience is not sitting there saying, “well, clearly the lilt of her voice means she is not to be trusted.” No, they aren’t saying that, but what they are saying is, “Hmmm, I don’t know, let me think about it.” The connection wasn’t made and it could very well be the voice that kept it from being made. Trust is built in the voice, it’s a researched and proven fact.
Several patterns or “types” of voices come to mind when I talk about patterns and problems. I’m willing to bet that you’ve heard these voices before and you will have an instant emotional reaction as you see their description on the list.
Many women and some men don’t speak in their real voice, that’s an entirely different article in and of itself but the voices that I list below are not real voices, not speaking in your real voice but rather a voice that you’ve created. We create voices for a number of reasons but the bottom line is, we need to ditch them so the audience doesn’t ditch us.
Sometimes this can manifest in what I call “little girl voice” talking like a little girl, in a higher range, almost silly like. Little girl voice is a voice that is created and I believe it’s created in part by society.
Little girl voice is very similar to another problem voice which is a super high pitch but annoying squeaky voice that seems to be stuck up in a higher register. I hear this one a lot, there is no lower range and the high tone is almost like nails on the chalk board.
Another voice similar to the stuck in high pitch voice and almost as exhausting is the lilt up. Many, many people I’ve worked with over the years have a lilt, some up and some down but the up lilt at the end of every sentence can become annoying pretty quickly. Perhaps think valley girl, the valley girl voice lilts up at the end. Lilt down is not as bothersome but one of the problems with lilt down on the ends of sentences is that we lose your words as your endings drop off.
Other voices that can cause us to immediately check out are related to volume. The person who talks very loudly, all the time, stressing all the words with volume…yeah, we feel like you are beating us with a vocal hammer. The only thing worse is the person who whispers so quietly that we really, really have to work hard to listen. In both cases, what the audience just might do is completely check out and not even try to hear or understand at all. That is what we are trying to avoid here!
Being completely monotone is a voice that can be laid in, where there is no vocal variety at all. This voice is the voice that drones along, giving everything the same value with no emphasis or unpredictability anywhere to be found. I believe that missing out on vocal variety is a problem that many presenters run into when they give presentations and there are reasons for that, but this is the voice that is always consistently flat.
The bad news is that these types of voice patterns can be creating problems for you and your ability to captivate and connect with your audience. But, the good news is, they can be adjusted and I believe pretty quickly if you have the right technique or tool. These voices have been put into your muscle memory, the top layer and you are speaking this way automatically. In order to change a vocal pattern, we simply need to practice a technique, lay it into the muscle memory, create a new top layer so to speak, so that you speak differently. An example: with a lilt up, we do an activity called drive to the end, where you practice saying sentences driving to the end of each one of them with no vocal variety, up or down. What this does is it cleans the voice canvas as such. After cleaning the canvas, by driving to the end and not letting the last word drop off, you have now laid in a new top layer and fixed your pattern that could be causing problems for you when you speak, no matter where or when.
I do believe the voice is the most powerful tool we have if we know how to use it. Simply by making a few easy adjustments you can make a much greater impact with your voice and get greater results in business and life.
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