Release the Voice Inside!
by Ramesha Nani
One of the most common vocal issues that speakers run into is the habit of speaking in a lower range than what is natural. This creates problems, such as vocal fatigue and hoarseness. It also makes the voice sound harsh and strained, conveying a sense of discomfort and tension.
I’ve been trying to understand why so many speakers do this, and recently a few of my students gave me the answer.
S. contacted me a few months ago to get some help with his speaking voice. He is a yoga teacher, and was frustrated with the sound of his voice. As I listened to him, I understood what was going on: his voice was not placed correctly, and he was speaking in a lower vocal range than what was natural and appropriate for him. This made the sound soft and muffled, even though I could tell that he was making a valiant effort to project it. I remember comparing it to driving a car with the emergency brake on!
After a couple of sessions, S. shared a profound insight with me. He had come to the realization that there was a deeper reason that he was not projecting his voice; years of insecurity and fear of saying the wrong thing. He said that working on developing his voice made him aware of the importance of facing his fears and insecurity. Working on his voice was a catalyst that brought unresolved issues from the past to the surface so that he could see them and release them.
G. asked me for help with her speaking voice. She was working on a project and needed to record some affirmations to go with the beautiful music played by her husband. She’s a singer and has a lovely soprano voice. However, observing her speaking voice I noticed that she was unconsciously forcing her voice to speak in a lower range, making it sound strained and almost masculine. Not only was her beautiful voice unrecognizable, but she was blocking energy and inspiration from flowing through her voice, speaking in a monotone which rendered the reading rather dull.
I asked her to raise her pitch and allow her natural sound to flow freely. I recorded her voice before and after, to help her notice the difference in sound and energy. When she heard it, she burst into tears. She told me that when she was a little girl she was a student at a catholic school. During her time there, she was often reprimanded for her loud voice, and was forced to speak more softly, or even better still, to not speak at all! As a result, over the years, she got used to stifling her voice, which forced her down to the bottom of her vocal range. This can be compared to living for years in a room with a low ceiling that prevents you from standing up straight.
When she spoke in her natural range, the difference was amazing. There was so much more energy, confidence, and light coming through her voice. It made what she was saying more compelling and interesting, even though she was reading exactly the same passage as before.
These experiences, and many others, have convinced me beyond any doubt that developing your speaking voice has much deeper ramifications than we might think. Our voice is so much a part of our personality; it’s our personal trademark. Every human being is special and unique, with a sound that’s also special and unique. However, most of us have covered this precious jewel with the mud of bad vocal habits, tension and negative emotions. Working on your voice can help remove that mud, allowing the jewel of your natural, true sound to shine once again.
The Speaking Voice Limiters – Find out what might be blocking your voice
This is a video series about the main vocal issues that speakers run into and how to address them. The first “limiter” is about The Voice Cracking. I’ll be creating many more, so stay tuned!