We here at Tyler Wren often hear clients feedback on interviews with candidates – “they seemed uncertain” (or variations there on) when the opposite may otherwise be true. It is particularly apparent when video conferencing – which is becoming more and more prevalent. We all see seminar speakers from time to time who lack the ability to engage us and your clients will respond to it in consultation too – whether they are aware of it or not.
Subconsciously, we all lend trust, credence and respect to a person whose voice is warm, commanding and open.
I’m sure we’ve all come across the “timid” voice type in our business dealings. The person whose voice you strain to hear, or that sounds thin and reedy. If this person is a CEO, the effect in a boardroom can be that it pulls attention and focus in – as their words must be heard and understood. But more often than not, we associate a thin, quiet and reedy voice with a lack of confidence and insecurity. And thus, it makes us feel similarly about the speaker.
So – what can be done? How can we improve our vocal quality and the subconscious messages our voices send?
Vocal training with specialist coaches is readily available for people in the corporate sphere. But for the time poor who want a taster – here it is.
Three exercises to open-up the voice and add richness to your tone –
Say “Mum” and hold the final “m” for the length of the breath. Do this first at the pitch that comes naturally to you. Then vary pitch – pick a note higher or lower to hold for the length of the breath. You can then play with sliding pitch up and down, across your range, for the length of a breath. Make sure you’re focusing on that final “m”
The effect of this is to bring your resonance forward in your mouth – allowing for a freer, fuller sound. The word triggers the placement. You should be able to feel a buzzing tickle on your lips when you find the right space for the sound.
“Hahaha” – three descending sighs on one breath. Use the aspirate onset (i.e. – breath before sound) triggered by the “H” to soften the tonal quality. It should be warm and easy. Yawning can also work.
The effect of this is to ease held tension off the vocal chords and allow the larynx to ease into a lower, more optimum, positioning for a richer tone.
Take a straw and a bottle. Fill the bottle with just enough water to allow the bottom of the straw to be submerged (approx. just less than a third full – depending on your bottle size). Exhale a full breath through the straw into the water, without sound, maintaining a steady airflow. Repeat this three times. Then add sound. Make an “oo” sound down through the straw into the water – and expect bubbles! Play with pitch – higher notes equal more bubbles.
The effect of this is diaphragmatic strengthening. Because water is denser than air, the supporting mussels get a work out creating the sound. It’s like adding weights to talking. It also lifts and opens the pharynx – creating more resonating space.
Listen to yourself speak now. Can you hear a shift? Just like with all workouts, if performed regularly your voice will adopt and take on the shape and quality you are creating. Five minutes daily and you’re on your way.
Article written by Ryan Bennett.