From the moment we’re born, we use our voice to communicate. We don’t have words or language, we’re only very tiny, but the noise we make to get the attention we want is ear-splitting.
A baby has perfect posture. There is nothing getting in the way to constrict the sound; no unhelpful muscle tensions, no inhibitions, nothing else on its mind except “I need” and “I want”.
But as it grows into a child and then an adult, of course things become more complicated.
Let’s look at 2 fictitious examples:
Child A is tall, taller than his/her peers. A is teased because of this and feels exposed, vulnerable and ‘different’. A tries to compensate by stooping, with hunched, rounded shoulders and a ‘caved-in’ chest, trying to seem smaller. A develops a very quiet way of speaking, so as not to draw any more negative attention. The poor posture affects the quality of A’s voice and the quiet attitude becomes a habit of mumbling.
Child B has a lot to say but is always being told to be quiet, ‘pipe down’, wait your turn, not now. B over time develops a habit of rushing speech, gabbling and pushing his/her voice in order to get the point across before someone either cuts in or puts a stop to it. The ‘pushed’ quality puts stress on the voice and the gabbling makes effective communication difficult.
Identifying vocal habits that could impair your communication skills, even if only slightly, can make a major difference to the success of your work and working relationships; improving sales, pitching, presentation and telephone communication.
For further information on coaching in voice, speech and communication skills, visit www.phoenixvoice.co.uk. Heather Phoenix is a vocal coach and actor with 25 years experience in professional voice work.