It never ceases to amaze me how many people discover this marvelous control over their voice and their words when they learn how to use their chest cavity as their primary sounding board. At a recent workshop, Monica was delighted with the results, remarking that, “It is as if I’m controlling my speech and in command of my words.”
She later sent me an email saying that her voice is getting “sweeter and sweeter.” When I met Monica, I immediately recognized that her volume was too soft and that she often spoke too quickly. And there were times when her voice sounded too young. With her lovely Jamaican lilt, Monica has a beautiful instrument and has gained this fantastic control over her words, her speed and her voice.
Do you ever find when addressing an audience that the pitch of your voice rises, you begin to speak faster and faster, and that are not sure what is going to come out of your mouth? Maybe you even find this happening when you are just speaking informally to friends, family members or colleagues.
Control over how you sound is only possible when you have total command of your voice; and, that is only possible when you:
- Learn to breathe with the support of your diaphragm;
- Find the optimum pitch of your speaking voice – which will in all likelihood be deeper than your habitual pitch; and,
- Use your chest cavity – the largest of your vocal resonators – to power and amplify your voice.
Most people – 99% of the population – are doing none of the above. While we were born breathing properly with support, as we develop we stop this practice and revert to shallow or upper chest breathing, which means that the pitch of the voice will be higher and the quality of the voice will not be full, rich, or resonant. The difference between those who do it properly and those who do not is like the difference between the voices of James Earl Jones and Don Knotts. Or the difference between Kathleen Turner and Betty Boop!
One of the things I love about Monica is the boost in her self-esteem. At the end of her email, Monica said to me, “The real test is when I have a group to address when I will say goodbye to Mr. Nervous and Mr. Jitters and to welcome Mrs. Great speaker.”