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Your Voice…Your Choice

“Breathe. Speak more slowly. Notice the quality of your voice. Slow down!”

I speak to groups and coach clients and since much of my work is done on the phone, sounding polished and impactful is important. Upon listening to myself after a recent radio interview, I was not at all pleased; actually, it was a bit unsettling. While it’s true that we can never really hear ourselves as others do, we prefer our voice as it sounds to us, vibrating around inside our heads; more resonant and deeper. The version of our voice we hear most often is the one that we grow to prefer. Psychologists call this the mere-exposure effect and it’s a reminder to check in on ourselves and take note of how we present. Is this the version of yourself that you want to retain or improve? It’s much easier to give feedback to someone else, however, my greatest takeaway was to practice S-L-O-W-I-N-G down, and taking breaks so that there’s

a flow of breath to ride on. What about other vocal habits, one in particular known as vocal fry, a linguistic trend in which the voice fries out at the end of a sentence, sounding low and raspy. A 2014 University of Miami and Duke University study found that, “Young adult female voices exhibiting vocal fry are perceived as less competent, less educated, less trustworthy, less attractive and less hirable.” Women of all ages need to be attuned to how we sound if we are to be received as serious professionals. Personal appearance may be emphasized; however, the entire package is your full presentation.

What other self-sabotaging conversational quirks sound familiar and need to STOP? • Baby Talk: using a high-pitched, singsong voice, often to appear younger • Qualifiers: overusing like, kind of and sort of • Up talking: ending every sentence in the tone of a question • Over-Apologizing: habitually saying “I’m sorry.”

Women of all ages need to be attuned to how we sound if we are to be received as serious professionals. These are not vocal habits or tics that men engage in. Personal appearance may be emphasized, however, the entire package is your full and memorable presentation.

• Record your voice and listen • Enroll a friend/colleague and record a “mock” interview • Ask for feedback • Practice deep breathing techniques


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