Monday, October 3, 2011

Is This Thing On? 3 Tips for Waking Up Your Full Voice

Posted on Monday, October 03, 2011 by International Coach Federation

Barbara's book, available today.
Vocal habits area like any other habit – they’re persistent, unconscious, and difficult to budge. Here are three tips for making your voice come alive.

Break out of your “voice box”
Stretch your voice beyond the way you usually talk. Think of it as a kind of “voice yoga.” A good way to begin is to speak as different characters. Say the sentence: “I am a brilliant coach” as Darth Vader. Now as Luciano Pavarotti (go ahead and sing that one!). Now as Julia Child, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Marilyn Monroe. Notice the changes that occur in your voice. Which ones felt comfortable and familiar? Which ones made your skin crawl?

Challenge yourself to choose the right voice for the job
You unconsciously change your tone of voice all the time. (I hope you don’t talk to your pets the same way you talk to a prospective client!) I invite you to be deliberate about choosing a tone of voice that is congruent with your words and intentions. If you need to project authority, speak low and slow. If you need to incite passion, bring a little Luciano into your sound. If you want to extend compassion, speak with a warmer, gentler tone.

I explain this idea more thoroughly in this short video.

Invite your body to the party
Most of the vocal issues I see are a result of the “dead body syndrome.” The voice gets trapped in the throat. There isn’t enough breath to support a viable sound. The face goes flat and unexpressive. The simple act of bringing more vital physical energy into how you speak will improve your vocal presence.

Barbara McAfee is a voice coach, singer/songwriter, keynote speaker, and the author of Full Voice: The Art and Practice of Vocal Presence (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). She has released six music CDs and lives across the street from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. She blogs at Learn more at 

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