Your Presentation Voice: Is That Really Me?

by drjim on May 26, 2009

When Speakers Hear Their Own Voice, They Need To Make A Decision...

When Speakers Hear Their Own Voice, They Need To Make A Decision…

We’ve all had that moment of disbelief – you know the one, when someone recorded you saying something and then played it back to you. You listened to the voice coming out of the speaker and you did what we all do – you winced and said “No way that’s me!” However, yes it was you – as you sound to everyone but yourself. Ouch!

From that moment on, you were forever changed. Just like in that move “The Matrix“, you had taken the red pill and now you couldn’t ever turn back – you now know how your voice sounds to others.

Nancy Meyer is a national speaker and author who has spent a lot of time looking into why we sound different to ourselves than we do to others. I think that she’s solved this mystery.

Nancy says that the reason that we sound so different to ourselves has three reasons: your inner ear, your outer ear, and where your voice comes from. Of course, that’s not quite enough info for you to do anything about it. So lets dive in just a bit deeper and find out what all of this means.

  • Your Inner Ear: Your speaking voice originates in the middle of your neck. You expel air which then passes through your vocal cords, gets magnified in your voice box, resonates in the cavities in your head and then the sound exits out your nose and / or  mouth. Your inner ear (the part that actually “hears” sounds) is located quite close to all of this so only you get to hear your voice as it starts out.
  • Your Outer Ear: So here’s something that you may not have thought of – you don’t actually hear the sounds coming out of your mouth. If you think about this, your ears are in the wrong place to hear what’s coming out of your mouth. Instead, what happens is that the sounds that come out of your mouth shoot out, bounce off of something, and then get picked up by your ears. This means that what you are actually hearing is really the sound of your voice plus a lot of extra noises.
  • Where Your Voice Comes From: Since you are creating the sounds that you speak in your throat, these vibrations end up rattling your entire head. This means that the parts of your ear that pick up sound are getting bounced around just by the very fact that you are speaking. This changes what you hear.

So this all leads to the big question: what if you don’t like the voice that others are hearing coming out of your mouth? In all honesty, there’s not a lot that you can do.

The key recommendation is that you don’t change your voice drastically – small changes are the best. You can practice with a tape recorder making changes and then playing them back. If you still don’t like what you are hearing then it may be time to go out an invest in a vocal coach. You should hear what you’ve been missing!

Have you ever hear a recording of your voice? How did it sound to you? Do you wish that you sounded different? Have you ever tried to change how your voice sounds to other? Did it work? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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Business Communication July 13, 2009 at 8:23 pm

This anatomy lesson as it pertains to public speaking was quite enjoyable and interesting. Thanks!

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