I was recently asked to weigh in on the article link above that uncovers linguistics tricks that You Tube stars use. As a voice expert, the minute I saw the article title I was of course intrigued and went straight to it. I was honored to have been asked my opinion of the article and after writing my response that is below, it was suggested that I might turn this into a post, which I have done.
I first find it very interesting that they refer to these items as “tricks” when really they are core voice principles that I teach that people simply no longer do, techniques that we have morphed out of over time. I’ve given a response to each of the “tricks” that were listed in the article below.
Over stressed vowels: this is simply just getting the sounds out. We tend to drop sounds vowels and consonants through the bottom of our jaw. I explain it that every sound needs to get out, they all paid the same admission price, you don’t want to give any refunds. This is simply good articulation, even though I don’t like that word because we shouldn’t work to get them out, we need to place them where they flow directly straight out of the mouth, all sounds.
Adding in extra vowels. This is more about pronouncing diphthongs as they are written in phonetics. We don’t teach phonetics anymore, at least not in America. Strangely enough, most of my International clients still pronounce diphthongs but if they want to sound American, we take that away because we no longer do it. It’s simply speaking the sounds as they were written to be spoken.
Long vowels, simply a tool of variety. Our go to on variety tends to be adjust our pattern or get loud when in actuality, there are many tools for variety and when they are all used, they create the unpredictability we long for because that’s what our audience connects to. Elongation is one of the tools as are shifts in volume, speed and pitch and of course, the all-powerful pause.
Aspiration is simply the difference between voiced and voiceless and most people, especially non English speakers are never taught the difference. Voiced and voiceless is the greatest challenge in my accent reduction work.
So at the end of the day, these are simply voice techniques that take you to the next level in the case of this article, they are used by the “stars”. But balance is still key. These techniques should not be overdone but rather learned, which is what you do with technique, practiced and then made to be your own. If they are not practiced and made your own they will sound stiff, stilted and fake. But, to be able to use the full vocal orchestra, all the elements of variety and therefore create unpredictability is one of the most essential ways you can captivate and engage the audience and break through the noise of content alone.
I might also add that what becomes ultimately essential is connecting to the breath to create a vulnerability and an authenticity rather than just a stylized pattern. I do believe that even though these principles they mention are true great voice strategies, that they are being used in this sense to create a stylized sound, similar to the way everyone wanted a “broadcaster” voice in the 80’s, classically trained BBC or even announcer voice. I think it happened by accident though. I think the first person started it, had good voice techniques that were just been over emphasized and a trend started. It looks to me like most of these people are Americans so I can see where these principles would seem like a method because the regular person just does not know to do these things because of what our voices have morphed into over here.
Ultimately, the techniques are crucial to make the impact that you want to make on the audience, to connect with them by bringing the words to life. The goal is not to copy a style but step into the power of the voice that everyone is capable of stepping into if they know how. Just like in the case of the You Tube stars, my belief that the voice does have the power to set you apart is validated. If you’d like to learn more about these techniques and principles, www.captivatetheroom.com