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Can You Speak Up Please?
Help for Soft Talkers

by Susan Berkley

VoiceCoach subscriber Lorrie writes: "When in a social setting with significant background noise, I am unable to speak loud enough for others to hear me. At times it looks as though I am just mouthing words and others just nod their heads pretending to hear what I say. My requests to waiters in restaurants often go unheard. My only other option is yelling, which I do not want to do. Is there anything that I can do?"

Susan Berkley: Of course there is! And fixing this problem is easier than you think.

Most people mistakenly believe that to have a voice that carries you merely need to turn up the volume. While that's important, it only works up to a point.

To really have the kind of voice that makes people sit up and take notice you need resonance. Sound waves travel via resonance. Your body has several natural resonators: in the chest, oral cavity and sinuses.

Learning how to use these resonators properly will really improve the sound, audibility and clarity of your voice. When sound originates at the larynx it is soft and barely audible, but as the sound of your voice moves into the resonators it becomes amplified, like sound in an amphitheatre.

When your voice is placed in the facial mask, it sounds rich, vibrant, and easily heard

Just as a tennis racket has a "sweet spot" for a powerful swing, you also have a vocal sweet spot. It's called the facial mask.

The mask is your area of greatest resonance. /It's an inverted triangle with the base stretching across the sinus resonators just above your eyebrows and the point of the triangle down at your larynx. When your voice is placed in the mask it sounds rich, vibrant, and easily heard.

Here's how to find your facial mask...

Hum. Hum loudly enough until you feel a buzzing in your nose, lips and sinuses. As you hum, allow the sound to morph into a word. Any word will do. I like to hum as I count from one to ten. Mmm-one, mmm-two, mmm-three and so on. Now your voice is properly placed, and when you speak it should be notably louder and richer-sounding.

Try to remember how your voice feels when it is "in the mask" and reposition it as you speak throughout the day. Voice coach Dr. Morton Cooper suggests keeping your voice in tune by saying "mmm" to indicate that you are listening while others are talking.

"Mmm. That's very interesting. Tell me more."

A few words about vocal volume level...

Soft speakers often don't adjust their volume in relation to ambient noise. Before you speak, listen and notice the noise level around you. Then, aim to speak just slightly louder than the ambient noise in the room. This varies depending on the situation. Louder in a noisy restaurant, softest in a library.

Yell only in emergencies. It can damage the vocal chords, as anyone who has ever become hoarse after a night of cheering at a sporting event has painfully discovered.

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.




Some Related Articles:

Does Your Voice Run Out of Gas?
My Favorite Vocal Warm-Up
Seven Ways For Making the Most of Your Voice
Help for an Excessively Loud Voice
Can a Happy Voice be a Liability?
Voice Too High? How to Safely Lower Your Pitch

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