Why do we want what other people have?
My friend Sue has the greatest hair. It’s short and curly and a tad unruly, but it’s a perfect fit for her. When I asked how much time she spends on “the look,” she said, “Oh I slept on this and did nothing to my hair this morning.”
THAT is the look every woman I know longs for…to wake up and not have to do ANYTHING to your hair and have it look gorgeous.
So I tried Sue’s directions (which involved curl cream…something I’d never even heard of) and let’s just say, uhh…it looked like a mistake on me.
Sue’s hairdo is not for Norma.
That incident reminded me that once an audience member beseechingly asked me, “Please teach me to sound just like you.” I replied, “I’m sorry, this is my voice and you can’t have it. But I can help you find your own voice.”
If you don’t like the sound of your voice, you’re not alone. Many people have told me they believe their voice detracts from the quality of their verbal interactions and presentations. Research bears that out; up to 38% of the verbal message that our listeners receive from us is based on various aspects of voice.
The good news is that you can take initial steps to improve some voice issues without spending a gazillion dollars on a voice coach.
The first exercise is to listen to yourself. That means you’ll need to record 30-40 minutes of YOU talking in everyday situations such as your side of a phone conversation, leading or actively participating in a meeting, teaching someone how to do something. Be creative and try to forget that you’re recording yourself.
No one listens to this taping but you. Set aside some private time to analyze your recording to determine what you want to change. Be brave! This is the point some people give up.
Trust yourself. You intuitively have the smarts to know what needs to be changed.
Don’t listen with a critical ear. Instead listen with an open and understanding ear, as though you’re listening to a good friend and you want to help him or her improve.
Do you hear a voice that’s talking so fast you don’t understand what’s being said? Or are the words coming so slowly that you feel yourself nodding off?
Is the voice high pitched to the point that it causes the speaker to sound unsure or even childlike? Or are the words in a dull monotone where every word carries the same weight? A monotone voice can cause disengagement because listeners aren’t quite sure what the main points are or what is being emphasized.
Maybe there’s a word or phrase that’s used repetitively without the speaker’s awareness of doing so. Some of the most overused words I hear are these:
Basically / Kinda / Literally / Sorta / So / And so / Just / Thing
Once aware of any issues that detract from the verbal message, we can begin working to repair them.
Your own true voice is inside you. Let it out because I want to hear it!