Unless a quirky voice is part of your shtick (think Sarah Silverman or, back in the day, Bobcat Goldthwaite), the richer and stronger you sound, the more believable and memorable you are to an audience.

According to a study by Quantified Impressions, your voice is twice as important as the words you choose. It may not be fair, but if you sound wispy, raspy, child-like, shrill, or nasal, your likeability diminishes and your message is much more likely to be dismissed.

Let’s make sure your voice is an asset, not a liability or distraction.

It’s largely a matter of learning to stop doing things that get in the way of your natural resonance. The goal isn’t to imitate James Earl Jones’s Darth Vader bass (“Luke, thank you for having me on the show”), but rather to sound like yourself unencumbered.

Sure, our vocal habits have to do with psychology and social conditioning, but you don’t need to enter therapy or read up on sociology to rock a rich sound. It’s absolutely doable.

Here are a few pointers that will up your resonance and therefore your credibility.

Support your voice: When people say, “Don’t breathe with your chest,” what they really mean is don’t breathe only with your chest. Use your whole torso, like you do when exercising. Start the breath in the belly and let it move up to the chest, then reverse to exhale. This is a very casual gesture. In interviews, it’s tempting to take shallow breaths on account of nerves or a sense that silence is bad. But pauses are totally OK, especially when they let you breathe! Breath support will give you a richer sound, prevent what’s called glottal fry (that grating, low rattle that sounds almost like a flat tire), and help your voice stay consistent in volume, which is a big help to producers.

Record yourself: I do practice, on camera interviews with my clients, but a home recording will certainly help. You can use your phone to tape yourself just in conversation. Listening back will help you understand what you really sound like and what you’d like to tweak. Plus, you’ll get over that initial shock of hearing yourself. (The ears are very near the vocal cords and sinuses, which resonate beautifully, so we sound very different to ourselves than we do to others.) Don’t do this the day of your interview, by the way. Give it a little time to sink in.

Relax your throat and chest: This sounds obnoxiously simple, but it may take some practice even identifying which muscles are tight. Lie on your back, take in a deep breath (don’t force it), open your mouth as wide as is comfortable, and let out a big “aaaaah” sound. Make sure nobody who’s going to tease you is around. Notice your body vibrate. Do this focusing on your belly, then your chest, then your throat, then your face. You will feel the difference between tight areas and relaxed ones.

Don’t force your pitch down: As I mentioned above, the goal isn’t to have a super low voice; it’s for it to be relaxed and resonant. If your voice jumps up into Elmo’s range when you get nervous, before you speak take a moment to breathe, let the insides of your throat just hang (don’t worry: the outside of your throat will still be lovely), and talk on a supported exhale.

There’s a lot more that I address in sessions, but these fundamental techniques will help you make great strides in finding your own, naturally rich sound.

Now go get ‘em. Aaaaaaaah.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *