speak, our voice has the function of an air-conditioning unit. When it is too
thin and flat, the atmosphere cools off. The door to the hearts of the audience
closes like a creaking door in a haunted castle. When the voice is pleasant and
warm, it warms the hearts of the audience too. They get in the mood.
Our voice, its sound, its expressiveness, is not inherent, but rather learnt
from a young age. We learn to speak by listening to others and thus adopt bad
speaking habits from those around us. It is useful to work on your own voice
because people make very particular associations with the sound of a voice. It
is not only Professor Higgins in the musical “My Fair Lady“ who is of the
opinion that: “If you give someone a new voice, you give them a new character
You can smile when you feel like crying; you can remain indifferent when
someone provokes you. But as soon as you speak, all the self control in the
world does not help. Your voice gives away your mood and determines the
impression you make. You must hear someone speak before you can form a complete
picture of them. Their voice is part of their overall personality. It is not
for nothing that Socrates said: “Speak that I may see you.“
You should avoid the following 7
Practice makes perfect
- Careless articulation. Mumbling or swallowing final syllables (livin’ instead of living) makes comprehension more difficult.
- Whispering words. When you whisper, the listener can hear the flow of air but it sounds ”over-ventilated “ and hoarse as a result.
- The voice level is too consistently high and sounds squeaky. People with a deeper voice win sympathy from others more easily.
- The voice is too soft. A “little-girl voice“ indicates insecurity.
- The manner of speaking is monotonous. The voice does not rise and fall and is not dynamic. This can be due to anxiety, disinterest or tiredness.
- The voice sounds solemn and pathetic. You sound as though you have learnt what you are saying by heart, as if you are not really behind it.
- Your voice is pinched and has too little resonance. This often conceals a fear of speaking up.
A voice is truly rounded when it combines head voice and chest voice. Experts
call this ideal voice level the “neutral pitch“.
The following humming exercise can help make your voice more pleasant and
First breathe out, very slowly. Then breathe in. Now touch your lips together
very gently. Do not press them together. Whilst you slowly let the air out
through your nose, hum loudly and strongly: “hmmm“. For as long as your outflow
of breath will allow. Then breathe in again. Let out as much “hmmm“ as your
breath allows. You should feel a slight tickling sensation in the lips. And it
should hum and vibrate like a beehive in the ‘sound box’ that is your head.
Repeat the whole process three times.
You achieve your
neutral pitch when the tone repeatedly sounds the same, of its own accord to a
certain extent. This “hmmm“ sound should then form the basis from which you
speak. Incidentally, this exercise is performed by all big-name singers, actors
and speakers. You can do it in the car, in your lunch break or when getting
ready in the morning. In short: you are filling “idle time“, all the while
helping your voice become more resonant.Author
Institut für Rhetorik,
Email firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.gerhardreichel.de