Developing a Good Speaking Voice
Different people have different types of speaking voice. Some of which we really look up to and admire. Different showbiz personalities, DJs, TV hosts, singers, ventriloquists, voice dabbing artists, radio announcers and news reporters. Some of which have really good speaking voices. The tone and manner of speaking well can be developed through working out your vocal intonation and diction. A beautiful sounding voice can be a life long task, some for a short period of time some even just a year. It all depends on how much you can tame your vocal cords.
I have come across some helpful exercises that will help you achieve this goal.1
1. Lie on your back with your knees in the air and your eyes closed. Feel your body. Seek out and eliminate any tension by "breathing into it". Important areas to focus on are: lips, jaw, tongue, neck, shoulders, chest, back (upper and lower) and diaphragm. Breathe deeply to expand your lung capacity.
2. Prop your head back a bit and release your jaw so that it gapes open. There should be no tension at all in your neck, chest, shoulders or your jaw. Take a deep breath in and as you breath out, vocalize. It will sound like an open-mouthed moan. As you vocalize, pay close attention to your jaw, neck, shoulders, back and chest. Most likely, they will tense up when you vocalize. Keep practicing until you can vocalize without tensing your muscles.
3. Repeat step two, but this time hold a note, any note. This will perhaps create tension in your jaw or neck areas. Continue to practice until you can perform this with no tension.
4. Repeat step two, but make different sounds. Slowly move your tongue, mouth and lips around as you vocalize different pitches. It should sound something like baby talk, but do it slowly. Try to eliminate any tension that arises in your jaw (especially in your jaw), shoulders, neck, and back.
5. Recite a poem or lines from a play. Try to maintain your relaxation and resonance. Listen to how different your voice sounds. The longer you practice on the floor, the easier it is to maintain your good speaking habits.
6. Sit upright. Chances are, there will be some tension in your key vocal areas. Pay special attention to your neck and your shoulders. Breathe into your tense areas to relax them. Repeat steps 2 through 5 while sitting upright.
7. Extend these habits to everyday conversation. It will be more difficult to maintain relaxation when you have to think of what to say, but with practice it will come.
If possible perform these exercises in a closed room without carpet so that you can hear yourself better.
Good posture is essential to a good voice, but not covered here.
Your jaw and tongue are the most important parts to relax because they form your resonating chamber, like the sound hole in a guitar. If it is too closed, you must exert more effort to achieve the same volume. A relaxed and free moving jaw and tongue will make your voice sound natural and less strained.
When your vocal cords create sound, you should feel vibration in your chest, back, neck and head (and eventually all through your whole body). This vibration will create resonance and give your voice a full, delicious sound. This is what you are trying to achieve, so spend a lot of time on relaxing these areas.2
Use your natural vocal pitch:
o Guys, a forced low voice sounds terrible. Don't try to force your voice to low registers. Also don't try to relax your vocal cords to the point that you have a monotone, low drone. Some men just have a higher-pitched voice and it can be quite sexy if the technique above is used to capture some lower resonant notes. Examples include rapper Q-Tip and actors Marlon Brando and Christopher Walken.
o Girls, don't force your voice high. It should be expressive and melodious, but at the same time it should be full and beautiful sounding rather than thin and whiny. Who is to say that Marilyn Monroe's voice is sexier than Sade's?
For males who are having problems with their pitch of voice that may either be too high or pitchy and can sometimes be mistaken for a female voice below are some things you should try to work on.
1. Talk slower, it will allow voice to resonate, vibrating out of your chest.
2. Tip your head down when you speak, as it seems to make a voice deeper when done correctly.
3. Practice, practice, practice……listen to his dialogs, songs and try to speak out in similar manner... a good way to start is practicing this line from a Hindi poem from Kabhi Kabhi -- Kabhi kabhi mere dil main khayal aata hain... This line has sounds and syllables that deeply resonates your voice, else make up your own.3
Above all it is very important to be yourself and don’t get frustrated if it may take you a while to get the hang of it. Take note however that some people suggest smoking cigarettes for a husky voice. Don't do it; it's better not to have as husky of a voice as all the health risks smoking offers. Not to mention, cigarettes don't really make voice manlier, it just damages your vocal chords.
1Patrick Gil D. Racho, Effective Communication, “102408: Developing a Good Speaking Voice”, © 2008.
2Ben Rubenstein et.al, Speaking and Listening Skills, “Steps to Perfectly Developing Your Speaking Voice.”
3Rojo Don Poro et.al, Developing Your Voice, “How to Get Amitabh Bachan’s Deep Voice.”
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