Imagine you are at a large amphitheater about to give the most important speech of your life to be voted as the president of the nation. You walk up to the podium to deliver your opening lines with the nation’s eyes upon you. You open your mouth to speak and a shaky, high-pitched voice comes out. What do you think the reaction of the audience would be?
Despite how you may appear physically your voice will speak volumes about your internal character.
Human beings are primarily visual creatures. We place far more emphasis on the visual aspect than on any other sense, i.e. ‘seeing is believing’. More often than not there is a total neglect on improving our vocal and aural qualities. It’s simply not ‘seen’ as an important area that yields any immediate impact or results.
The reality is that our voice is our most powerful weapon and asset when it comes to influencing, interacting and communicating with the world around us. Whereas our looks can be easily manipulated our natural voices are far more challenging to change immediately. Our voices embody who we are truly and that is why it is our greatest asset.
The Qualities of a Powerful Voice
So what constitutes a powerful voice and what benefits does it offer?
A powerful voice is one that is:
- Resonant: Resonance is the ultimate goal for most singers and speakers. It is the quality of a voice that is deep, rich and reverberating that allows it to be amplified and projected with power.
- Articulate: Good articulation allows for ease of communication and demonstrates precision.
- Deep: A deep voice signals authority and commands respect. Conversely, a high-pitched voice will come across less credible.
- Warm and soothing: Our voice has an underlying tone to it. A warm and soothing tone has the effect of disarming and relaxing people, in turn making you more likeable.
- Distinctive: A distinctive voice is one that can be easily recognized through its own blend of unique qualities.
- Projection: Your ability to project your voice is synonymous with power. It is important if you are speaking to a larger audience.
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The Way to Develop Your Most Powerful Voice
Developing a powerful voice is a continuous undertaking. There are various ways in which you can develop your voice instantaneously however for the most part it is a gradual process. Here are various ways to develop power with their respective target areas.
For your benefit, the techniques and exercises are grouped in levels of difficulty and amount of effort starting from the simplest and most instantaneous changes to gradual and long-term exercises.
Level 1 Exercises & Techniques: Simple changes you can make instantaneously and easily that can make noticeable changes in your voice.
Level 2 Exercises & Techniques: Slightly more difficult exercises & techniques that require you to consistently and consciously change the way you use your voice.
Level 3 Exercises & Techniques: More technical ways to create noticeable changes to your voice. These require daily practice to fundamentally change the way use your voice and to strengthen the mechanisms that create and develop power.
Level 1 Exercises & Techniques
Yawn a lot:
The simplest most powerful thing you can to unleash the potential of your voice is to simply yawn. In an interview with Morgan Freeman he noted that the secret to his distinctively resonant voice was to “Yawn a lot”.
When you slow down the pace of speaking you will automatically sounds more articulate. Conversely, speeding up your pace will make you seem nervous.
When you think of Buddhist monks you often get images of them meditating and humming. Humming is great because not only it warms up your voice, it makes your voice deeper (by lowering the larynx), resonant and warm sounding.
Smile when you talk:
Have you ever been on the phone and could just tell whether or not the other person was smiling or not? It’s extremely subtle however smiling can change the quality of our voices, making it more warm and pleasant.
Open your mouth wider:
When you open your mouth wider when speaking it allows your voice to be openly projected. Just don’t open it too wide or else it will look unnatural. Make it a habit to open your mouth slightly wider when you talk in general.
Level 2 Exercises & Techniques
We all know a good posture is good for us but how does it benefit our voices? When we stand with our head facing straight forward with back straight we open the passage ways for air to pass through our vocal folds freely. Also try opening up the shoulders and chest area to allow for fully expanded lungs.
Consciously pronouncing your words clearly and precisely over time will greatly improve your articulation. As a tip you could try mimic news presenters to get their level of articulation and clarity. Also try recording your voice by reading out lout or speaking to others. By recording your voice you can immediately recognize the areas you would like to improve in your voice (i.e. articulation, pitch, volume, tone etc.)
Tension in the area around the neck and shoulders is the cause of tight, weak and obstructed voices. Stretching the muscles around this area can create a more pleasant sounding and free voice.
Some simple stretching exercises
- Tilt your head all the way back facing the ceiling and hold it there. You should feel a stretch in the vocal region. For a greater stretch say the words “ding dong” (like a doorbell) whilst you are in this position.
- Shake your head from side to side gently then slowly and gently rotate your head around in circles.
- Free tension in your shoulders by rotating them as if you were doing shoulder shrugs.
Watch your pitch:
Speaking in your higher registers (high-pitched) is the quickest way to annoy someone and lose credibility. Learn to lower your voice slowing down and speaking more from diaphragm ï¼refer to below).
Also, avoid speaking from your nose as this is what creates that nasal quality (that can be annoying to others). If you are finding that your voice is nasally, I advise doing vocal exercises that lifts the ‘soft palate’ (the fleshy roof at the upper-back of your throat). Simply, say and hold the sound “ing” and transition it to an “ah” sound whilst letting your tongue and jaw relaxed.
Level 3 Exercises & Techniques
Lower Your larynx:
Lowering your larynx is the key to achieving a deep, rich and resonant voice. At first you will need to look in a mirror to locate and lower your larynx. For men, your larynx is directly behind the Adam’s apple so when you yawn you will notice it lower considerably. For women, it may be more difficult to locate visibly however simply place your middle and forefinger in that region to feel it lower when you yawn.
To lower your larynx, you open your mouth as wide as you can and say “Ah” in the deepest voice possible and hold it (repeat a few times). You should sound ‘dopey’ and deep. Over time with consistent exercise your voice should deeper and more resonant.
Some way along the way most of us have forgot how to breathe 'properly'. Yes, that's right - the proper way of breathing is to breath through your diaphragm rather than through your chest. Just look at how babies b
Learning to breathe with your diaphragm gives your voice all the power it needs to be projected. If you are unsure whether or not you are breathing correctly, look for your stomach to expand when breathing. If your chest or shoulders rise then you are breathing incorrectly.
As a simple way to force yourself to breath correctly, place your hand in front of your stomach and try to breathe into your diaphragm to push out your hand.If you want to strengthen your diaphragm simply push against it when you breathe to greatly increase power.
Now the key is consistency. Make this a normal way of breathing and you should see not only your vocal power increase but your general wellbeing increase dramatically.
Do Vocal Exercises:
The last way to greatly improve your vocal power is to do vocal exercises daily and consistently. There are various ways you can do these. Investing in a vocal program can dramatically improve your voice in power, texture, control, resonance etc. They are usually designed for singers however are just as good for anyone who wants to develop their voice. Alternatively, you can find a vocal coach to help fine-tune your voice.
A comprehensive vocal program can completely change the way you use your voice so it's worth considering.
Important Advice on Developing Powerful Voice
- Power is not always about volume. Simply yelling and screaming out loud doesn’t make your voice powerful, it does however destroy your voice. Take the time to build up your voice rather than trying to force our power.
- The golden rule in all singing programs alike is that stress = bad. Whenever you feel tension or stress around your vocal regions, stop immediately. Tension will only cause further damage to your voice rather than build it.
- The more relaxed you are in your body and in mind, the better your vocal quality. Similar to the above point, stress is bad for you. Being relaxed will allow you to be in optimal condition whether you are speaking or singing.
Your Greatest Asset & Weapon
The voice we possess forms the basis of our communication with the world around us and can either work against us or serve us. It is our own unique vocal signature.
Just like how you can’t dramatically change your facial features (unless cosmetically), you can only do so much to change it. While you may never actually sound like Morgan Freeman or you should learn to accept and embrace it for its uniqueness.
Take the time to build its power and sooner or later you will see how your world changes for the better. Make it your greatest asset and your greatest weapon.
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