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Voice Too High? How to Safely Lower Your Pitch

by Susan Berkley

A reader writes: "Even though I'm a mature female and a stockbroker, I am often mistaken for a child when I answer the phone or leave messages. I'm not sure what to do. Is my voice too high? Too hesitant? How can start to sound my age?"

Another reader writes: "I am a small man and my voice is higher than I prefer. Are there any ways to lower my voice? I once heard that one movie star used to go into the mountains and scream for hours."

First, Screaming will not lower your voice. Do not try this! In fact, screaming or yelling for prolonged periods of time can actually injure your vocal chords. If you've ever yelled a lot at a sporting event and experienced a sore throat the next day, you know what I mean.

All voices are beautiful when properly played. And some voices are just naturally higher than others. But all of us have an optimal pitch.

Your optimal pitch is the speaking range that's healthiest for your particular voice, the range within which you have the greatest amount of resonance, comfort and vocal flexibility.

If you feel your voice is too high, you may be habitually speaking above your optimal pitch. And if this is the case, you can definitely change it.

Here are the steps to take (from Chapter 6 of my book: "Speak To Influence: How To Unlock The Hidden Power Of Your Voice" available at your favorite bookstore or at our website.

Get a reality check - you may not have a problem at all!

Unless you are frequently mistaken for a child your voice may not be as high as you think. Like body image, voice is one of those things where it's difficult to be objective.

To find out if others share your opinion, tape record your voice speaking normally to a friend or business associate. Then give the tape to a trusted friend or colleague. Ask them to give you balanced feedback -positive and negative.

If your friends agree that your voice is too high, proceed to step two.

Find your natural pitch

In order to appreciate your natural pitch, you must first learn where it is. Dr. Morton Cooper, a Hollywood voice coach, says the best way to find your natural pitch is to hum a few bars of a simple song like "Happy Birthday." The pitch at which you naturally hum is the same pitch at which you should speak.

Compare your speaking voice to your humming voice

Both should match in pitch. A tape recorder will make it easier to compare the two.

Practice speaking at your humming pitch

In private, alternate humming and speaking until you get the hang of it. In public, hum discreetly by saying"um hum" as if agreeing with the other person you are talking to. This will keep you speaking at your optimal pitch throughout the day.

Relax!

Tension tends to make the voice rise. Muscles tighten and voices can become shrill. For a better voice, breathe deeply and exhale stress

Speak from your body, not your head!

While speaking visualize that your voice is emanating from your chest or your belly instead of your head. Now reverse the process and see if you can notice the difference. A head voice sounds thinner, a chest voice deeper and more resonant.

To test that your voice is properly placed, put your hand on your breast bone. It should vibrate slightly when you speak.


From The VoiceCoach Newsletter by Susan Berkley. Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2008 All Rights reserved.

Susan Berkley is the author of Speak To Influence:How To Unlock The Hidden Power of Your Voice. available from your favorite bookseller. For a free subscription to The Voice Coach Newsletter visit www.speaktoinfluence.com.







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