Turn On Your Voice Amplifier!
by Ramesha Nani
Have you ever tried to cover the hole of a guitar’s sounding board and then play it? Did you notice what happens? The sound, usually resonant and rich, becomes thin and barely audible. This exactly describes what happens to speakers who haven’t learned to use their natural “voice amplifiers”: their voice sounds thin and weak, and when they talk to a big group or in a large room, they end up straining their voice in order to be heard.
If we could hear the voice as soon as it comes out of the vocal cords we would be surprised by how thin and soft it is. That’s why Mother Nature gave us a variety of natural, powerful amplifiers to make the sound of our voice louder and more resonant. The main amplifier is the chest. If you place your hand on your chest while you’re speaking, you will feel it vibrate. That’s because the voice uses the chest as its primary natural sounding board, and most everyone is able to use their chest as a sounding board without even knowing it.
But there are additional, less obvious sounding boards/amplifiers located in the facial area, namely the sinuses and nasal cavities. A big part of training your voice for speaking has to do with “activating” these facial sounding boards by learning how to send your voice into those areas, which voice teachers call the “mask”. Sending your voice into the mask has several distinct advantages:
- Your voice becomes amplified
- Your voice sounds richer and more resonant
- Tension in the throat is greatly reduced
- With a relaxed throat and a strong, resonant voice, you’re more free to convey an increased sense of confidence and clarity to your audience
So, how do you activate your mask? One of the best ways is to hum as often as possible throughout the day. While you’re driving, or walking down a noisy street, or at the grocery store you can be humming without being heard by other people (hmmmmmmmm). As you hum, keep your throat and lips relaxed. You should feel your lips “buzzing”. This simple exercise will gradually train your voice to move from the lower area of the throat to the upper throat and nasal cavities, where it belongs. Then, when you speak, try to bring the resonance of your voice more and more into your mask, the same as when you’re humming.
Don’t worry about sounding “fake”; you’ll need some time to get used to your new sound. But this is how, physiologically, our voices are “designed” to work. Unfortunately, over years of misuse we’ve acquired the bad habit of tensing and straining the voice, making retraining necessary.
Relax, unlock the full potential of your voice, and reclaim your lost vocal identity!