Your Voice: The Punch Behind Your Personality
by Raju Mandhyan

If the eyes are the windows to your soul then your voice is the music that bursts from your soul. Your voice is a "proxy" of your personality that doesn't require your physical presence. It tells as much about your personality as your eyes tell about your soul.

The quality of your voice, just like the color of your eyes, is God-given. But the personality of your voice is what you make of it by way of inflection, enunciation, and vocalization. Deep, baritone and rich voices can sometimes sound harsh, flat, and dissonant while a low, soft, and a thin voice can, with proper modulation, be pleasant to hear.

Your voice is the product of air passing through your vocal chords, mouth and lips. You may not have much of a say as to what kind of vocal chords you get in life but you can surely play sweet music with the air that strums the vocal chords and escapes through your mouth, tongue, and lips. The personality of your voice is then largely dependent on how you manage your breathing.

I admire the way former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Indian Superstar Amitabh Bachchan, and Asian MTV Host Donita Rose modulate their voices. Each of them has a different voice quality and accent but all three of them understand timing, rhythm, and inflection. It is also very obvious from the way they speak that they have a high awareness of their talent. They like what they can do with their voices and they use it for maximum effect.

At a workshop some time ago, one of my participants related a story about how he had seen Amitabh Bachchan prepare himself for a scene which required him to get into a rage and still deliver his lines with clarity, rhythm, and perfect enunciation.

Away from the set and cameras, Mr. Bachchan was in a corner doing vocal exercises, at times screaming and shouting at nothing. My participant went up and asked Mr. Bachchan the reason behind this strange behavior. The legendary star replied that he was not only preparing his physiology to emote anger, but also exercising his vocal chords and diaphragm to deliver with power and clarity the few lines of the scene being shot.

The mastery of rhythm and timing that many good public speakers have is achieved through hours of practice and discipline. We too can improve our vocal delivery through exercise and discipline.

Let's start off by assessing the personality of your voice. Take a quality tape recorder and read something out loud for 10 minutes.

  • Were you rushing through the words?
  • Were you in a hurry to get it over with?
  • While recording, were you breathing normally?
  • Because you were recording, were you trying to sound professional?
  • Were you trying to imitate someone else's speaking style?
  • Were you pronouncing the vowels from the depths of your diaphragm?
  • Were you enunciating the consonants completely and carefully?

Do several tests on yourself. You will find there will be a voice that will sound rich, distinct and conversational. That is the voice you need to capture and train for public speaking.

When I first started in public speaking, I spoke in a voice that truly reflected my personality. But after a few months of training, my trainers made me conscious of several superfluous things like my Fil-Indian accent or the way I pronounced certain words.

Fear and anxiety replaced my natural personality until I realized that I was hurting myself trying to sound like someone else. Today, I have found my voice and people comment positively on not only what I say, but also on the way I say it.

Here are several ways to enhance the personality of your voice:

  • Stand erect and let the air from the depths of your diaphragm rise to modulate your voice.

  • Speak deliberately and raise the volume to a level, which is slightly above your conversational voice.

  • Speak in a large room as if you were speaking to the person farthest away from you.

  • Pause every so often and run the next few sentences through your mind before you speak. Don't worry. The brain thinks in images. You will be able to visualize your sentences and modulate better, in the slight pauses that you allow yourself.

  • Don't abuse your vocal chords by smoking or drinking caffeine that dehydrates your mouth and tongue. Drink warm water instead of coffee before a speech.

  • When using a sound system, test it first. And while speaking, stay at a proper distance from the microphone so that it does not cause vibrations or echoes.

  • And, lastly, breathe easily and steadily while speaking.

Learn to listen to yourself more often. Listen to your own speeches and watch videos of yourself whenever possible. Constantly work at improving vocalization and adding rhythm and timing to the way you speak.


Author of "The Heart of Public Speaking", Raju Mandhyan has fifteen years of exposure to manufacturing, sales, marketing and international trade; seven years as an independent coach, consultant and trainer. His talent rests not in telling you things that are right and useful, but guiding you through your own thoughts and helping you find truths and applications for the 21st century corporate world. Visit http://www.mandhyan.com/ for additional information.

Many more articles in Presentations & Public Speaking in The CEO Refresher Archives

   


Copyright 2005 by Raju Mandhyan. All rights reserved.

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