I don’t meet very many people who like the sound of their recorded voice.
The fact is that many people have no idea what they sound like. This is because of the way in which the brain processes the sound of our voice as we use it. For more on this, see this article.
The reality of what we hear and perceive as our voice is not the real issue here. The reason I am writing about this today is that so very many people dislike the sound of their recorded voice and yet, they do nothing about it. The perception that you are stuck with the voice you have today is as enduring as it is false. Your voice may just be the most adaptable part of you, why limit its potential at all.
Let’s start by getting know what you sound like, which means dear reader, you must start recording yourself as you speak.
Vocal self-assessment is a powerful and necessary tool. You have to get past the cringe factor and really listen to voice coming from the recording. Let’s tap into what we hate about our recorded voice.
- We don’t recognize it as Us. Again, the auditory cortex is creating a beautifully curated version of your voice for you that may have little basis in the reality of your actual voice in the room. We can’t hear what we actually sound like. Over time, we can develop a more accurate fiction of our voices but we don’t really “hear” them.
- We are Judgy. We have the same reaction when listening to our recorded voice that we have to listening to another speaker. Which is to say, we are judging their authority to speak. In the case of ourselves, our prejudgments about what we are about to hear are in this reaction. Give yourself a break. Kindness is the key to Clarity and vice versa.
- We really want it to be good. We all want to discover that we sound like ***insert name of person you admire here***, in my case, Alfre Woodard. Here’s the thing. Alfre Woodard didn’t start out speaking like Alfre Woodard. There are countless hours of acting craft, of speaking out loud, and embodying her artistry (for years!) that create the voice of Alfre Woodard. My hours of craft have developed a voice I like almost as much as Alfre’s, but it is uniquely mine. You can have your best voice too, but you must begin to actually craft that voice, it won’t just magically appear.
So here is the assignment. Start recording yourself today. Listen to those recordings with kindness. Listen for the strengths and listen for the weaknesses. Write them down. Wash, rinse, repeat. Record yourself presenting, record yourself on the phone (just your end, try not to violate any surveillance laws, please), record yourself in meetings and get acquainted with your unique voice.
In many cases, as you get to know you, you will come to love and appreciate the way in which your thinking enters the room. If not, know that you can change it, it is within your power. Your voice, your aural face, is ready to present the authentic you. It just needs you to develop a little craft.
Gina Razón is the principal voice specialist at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service voice and speech studio in Boston’s Back Bay. She has over 16 years of experience both as a teacher of voice and speech, and a voraciously curious voice user. Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as professional public speaker. For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit www.growvoice.com.