While I’ve already written an article about vocal projection, I don’t feel like I gave enough practical exercises that really work in helping one to improve their voice tremendously.
This article is strictly going to be about some of the best exercises and techniques you can use to transform your voice in 30 days.
Committing to 30 days of focus
Is this an area you feel that you need some work on?
If your answer is yes, make a decision that for the next 30 days you will put your focus on improving the quality of your voice. It takes 30 days to create a new habit, so if you truly commit to following what is in this article, you will see lasting improvements.
I’ve researched and tested tons of exercises and techniques in my journey to improve my own voice quality. I’ll share the most practical and helpful things that worked for me.
As I wrote in my Vocal Projection article, the power and clarity at which you speak is one of the most overlooked aspects of highly effective and attractive communication; yet it’s one of the most important.
So let’s get to the exercises.
The first exercise is a simple but super effective in refining your voice.
Recording your voice
The best way to start strengthening your voice is to bring in some awareness of what you’re beginning with.
The way that other people hear our voice it is a bit different that how we hear it. The first time I heard the way I talked on a home video, I was surprised at the sound of my voice.
So all you need for this exercise is something to record your voice with, and if you don’t have one you can use your computer or the video capture part of your digital camera. Just make sure that whatever is recording your voice will play it back with substantial quality.
I have an application on my cell phone that I use to record my voice. For those of you who have a cell phone with this feature, I have found that this works pretty well for this exercise.
With your voice recorder, press the record button and pretend you’re having a conversation with one of your friends or coworkers on the phone. It’s important here to speak like you normally do when you’re not thinking about your voice.
After you have finished recording, play it back and measure yourself from a scale of 1-10 in each of these areas (I recommend getting a friend to rate you because we tend to rate ourselves higher):
There are three key areas that you should focus on. For practical purposes, if you cover these three areas than you really cover everything you need for your best voice.
Is your voice clear and sharp or do you slur your words?
Some great exercises to practice clarity and enunciation is to:
- Exaggerate the mouthing of the words you are saying
- Place a pencil horizontally in your mouth between your teeth and read in a clear understandable voice
- Record or practice saying tongue twisters out loud until each word is clearly audible
Volume and energy are naturally intertwined, because when you speak with energy and confidence in your voice, the volume of your voice naturally rises with it to meet the situation.
This is very important because people who inject energy and expression into their voices are though to be more creative, confident, and credible. When you don’t pepper what you’re saying with expression and emotion, you risk losing the attention of the listener. And a monotone delivery can make you come off as boring or nervous.
Listening to your recording..
- Do you feel that your voice exudes power and confidence?
- Does your voice express a healthy amount of energy and exuberance?
- Do you sound certain or confident?
- Do you sound passionate or excited?
Rate yourself higher for these positive traits.
Rate yourself lower for things like low energy, sounding tired, stuttering, and uncertainty.
For example, when you’re at a restaurant or public setting, do you have to constantly repeat yourself or forcefully raise your voice?
If so, there is work to be done in this area.
Do you wish your voice had a deeper, richer, rounder sound? Resonance is what makes your voice sound richer and more masculine.
Our “box” for resonating(or vibrating) sound is the chest, throat, mouth, and nasal cavities. Because we all vary in size, we all sound different.
Try this exercise: Make a high pitched noise, and slowly go down into a deeper sound. You’ll feel your voice resonate from your throat down to your diaphragm. This is where the bass lies.
Studies have shown that women find men with deeper voices more attractive. You don’t need to sound like Barry White but you should work on speaking deeper if your voice is very high pitched or squeaky. Ask a good friend where you range on the 1-10 scale. 1 sounding like Alvin and chipmunks, and 10 sounding like the movie trailer guy. Okay maybe not exactly, but you get the point.
Working it into your life:
Within these thirty days, think of habits you can build that will keep you working on your voice consistently. I record daily memos and reminders on my phone, and this is how I consistently monitor the sound and strength of my voice daily without really thinking about it.
If you don’t take this kind of consistent action, it WILL revert back to your comfortable, old voice.
Another thing that I like to do is to talk out loud whenever I’m alone or whenever I get a chance. If you’re driving in your car, talk to yourself out loud. Also, with the amount of texting and e-mail people do these days, some people can go a whole day without speaking a word to people.
This is not for you, instead of texting that person back and forth, call them and settle it on the phone. Instead of writing someone a long e-mail, just call them and tell them the main points. Instead of just asking for milk in your coffee, start a conversation with the barista at the cafe.
This is a simple but powerful visualization tool that you can use daily:
Every time you are talking to someone, imagine that when you speak, you can actually see the sound waves traveling towards the direction you are facing.
I like to visualize them in waves shaped like rings (like the picture above), but you can visualize them however you want.
So imagine it like this:
The volume of your voice determines how wide your sound “rings” or waves are. This enables a wider range of people to hear what you are saying.
Your enunciation and the sharpness in your voice determines the strength of the rings. Picture blowing smoke rings – when you speak with more strength picture the rings being more solid and thick rather than loose and wispy.
A great way to cover all areas is to imagine that the person you are talking to has ears in the back of their head. Imagine that the only way that they can hear you is if you bounce your voice off the wall behind them, so that it enters their ears. So throw your voice at the wall behind them like a ball that will bounce back.
You shouldn’t be yelling, but just making sure you can be heard.
I always visualize a target 20 feet ahead of me, and throw my voice AT the target, imaginging hitting it with my voice.
A great way to practice this is to talk to your friend across a city street, and have a conversation while walking on opposite sides of the street.
I use the 20 feet target visualization when I’m in a crowded place and it’s really loud, or when I’m outside in a city area. I bring it down to 10 feet when I’m in a quieter place.
Of course, you have to practice adjusting your vocal projection to the setting you are in. But if somebody says you are being too loud, then take it as a compliment, and calibrate accordingly. If you’ve never been told to quiet down, perhaps you want to make it your goal to hear that within the next 30 days.
Setting yourself up for success
Even though studies show that it takes 30 days to lock in a new habit, it does not mean that after 30 days, you will automatically be “fixed” and you don’t have to think about it anymore. What matters is the kind of habits you build. The habits you create should be ones that make you inevitably improve the strength of your voice every single day.
These habits include warming up your voice in the car on the way to meeting your friends, consistently recording yourself and talking outloud, and any habits that will consistenly help you build your most powerful communication tool.
Also, work on your voice gradually. If you try to change your voice completely, not only will your friends look at you like you’re on something, it’s going to be really hard to keep up.
Make sure to drink plenty of fluids. Sometimes it’s dehydration that makes your voice sound weak or hoarse.
Speak from your belly. When you speak, you should be feeling the power come from your belly area, through your lungs, and not just from your throat.
After your have finished your 30 days, come back and send me some of the realizations you’ve had about your voice, any improvements you’ve made, and anything else you want to share in the comment section! Looking forward to hearing from you!