In the book Blink, author Malcom Gladwell describes some fascinating research done by psychologist Nalini Ambady. She took recordings of conversations between doctors and patients, and “content filtered” the high frequency sounds that identified the actual words so that only a form of garble was left.
After identifying four different qualities – warmth, hostility, dominance, and anxiousness – she was able to listen to just the tone of voice and predict with a high degree of accuracy which doctors were sued and which ones weren’t.
One thing is clear from this kind of research.
The quality of a voice has a profound impact on how a listener responds.
A few years ago, a voice coaching client of mine did a presentation that took many hours to prepare. She developed a power point presentation and rehearsed it many times.
However, when she stood in front of her colleagues her voice revealed her anxiety, not her knowledge.
At the end of the presentation, she felt betrayed by her own voice. In her words, “My performance did not illustrate my knowledge or the extent that I prepared. Instead I appeared nervous and unprepared.”
Why don’t our voices always reflect us in a true light?
When and why do we lose the ability to connect to our true voice?
This is how it happens.
Your thoughts and life experiences shape your internal dialogue; that sneaky little voice inside that comments on what we’re doing and saying and being.
That internal dialogue in turn affects your external dialogue, and therefore the quality of the sound you make by disconnecting you from who you really are.
A voice that is unauthentic is a learned experience.
There are a few reasons for that.
Current culture is very good at shaming people who dare to go outside the rules for what we can and can’t say.
Perhaps in the past we’ve been told we’re too much or too loud or on the opposite side of the coin, not enough.
Maybe we’ve been told our ideas are too weird or outside the box, or we’ve muted ourselves instead of taking a stand and speaking up.
Whatever the reason, it possible to have the voice you were always meant to have.
Recover your authentic voice by exploring these three questions.
Is your voice in your whole body or is it shallow and disconnected?
Is the sound of your voice congruent with the words you speak?
Does your voice align with who you are with no vocal qualities that contradict your meaning?
An honest look at these questions, perhaps with a helpful friend, the use of a recording device, or work with a voice coach, will help you recover or uncover the voice that is the real you, and achieve rapport with any audience.