Soft Speaker RX: Top 4 Ways to Let Yourself Be Heard
By Susan Berkley
A client writes:
“When in a social setting with significant background noise I am unable to speak loud enough for others to hear me. At times it looks as though I am just mouthing words and others just nod their heads pretending to hear what I say. My requests to waiters in restaurants often go unheard. My only other option is yelling, which I do not want to do. Is there anything that I can do?”
If you are not being heard, you may think it’s because you are not speaking loudly enough. But actually, volume may be only part of the problem. Do a systems check on these four areas:
- VOCAL VOLUME LEVEL
- VOICE PROJECTION
- THE WAY YOU FEEL ABOUT YOURSELF
CONTROLLING VOCAL VOLUME
Volume level should not be confused with projection. To project the voice, we don’t try to yell or force it out of our body. That can cause strain. To have a voice that carries well, you must use your body’s natural resonators. Your body has three resonating cavities: the voice box, the mouth and the nose. The voice is produced at the vocal chords and then amplified in the facial mask around the lips and nose. To sound rich, resonant and project without strain, you must focus your voice in the facial mask, blending the oral and nasal resonators.
Speech therapist Dr. Morton Cooper says the simplest way to find your facial mask is to hum. Try it now. HMMMMMMMM. Good. Now practice alternating humming and speaking. HMMMMM My name is Susan. HMMMM My favorite color is blue. HMMM Many people say I’m a great dancer, etc… Have some fun with it. Practice humming and speaking throughout the day. Once you get the hang of what a resonant voice feels like you can drop the hum and feel the vibration of your words in your facial mask.
I have found that there is often a strong psychological component to communication difficulties. Soft speakers may unconsciously be trying to hold themselves back, inhibit their self-expression, or stifle themselves and these factors should be explored. For more insight on overcoming self-limiting behaviors I recommend an excellent book called The Origin Of illness by Dr Norberto R. Keppe.
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Susan Berkley is a top voice over artist and founder of The Great Voice Company, a company devoted to teaching great voices around the world how to become successful voice over actors. The Great Voice Company is an international leader in voice over training and in providing top quality voice over recordings in all languages to discerning businesses and marketers. For additional information visit www.greatvoice.com
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