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Chapter 28. Smashing the Sound Barrier > Read My Lips: Voice - Pg. 233

Smashing the Sound Barrier 233 I was shocked the first time I ever heard my voice on a tape recorder. "Do I really sound like that?" I wondered. After years of teaching, I've discovered that nearly everyone is disconcerted when they hear their voice for the first time. "That can't possibly be me!" they gasp. "I thought my voice was deeper, lower (louder, richer...)," they mutter. Doubts about voice can make even the most self- confident speaker a little squeamish. Some of our most noted speakers and performers have less-than-thundering voices: Think of Dustin Hoffman's whine and Barbara Walter's "r" impediment. With extensive training, most people could learn to speak with the richness of Patrick Stewart or the late Sir Laurence Olivier. But you probably don't have time to invest in years of speech training. However, you can take a few minutes to help you smooth out some rough spots in your voice so you can make the best possible impression with your speeches. How can you acquire a more effective voice? As with speech delivery, one of the secrets is practice. But the wrong kind of practice can do more harm than good because doing the same thing wrong over and over again just makes you better at making that mistake. To make your practice worthwhile, you should first learn something about the mechanics of voice. Let's start with the quality of your voice. Voice Quality What people first notice about your voice is its quality. Is it harsh? Nasal? Thin? Resonant? Although a pleasing vocal quality is basic to effective communication, it doesn't in itself create good speech. To communicate your ideas and feelings to other people, your voice must meet two requirements: · It must be easy to understand. · It must be flexible in pitch, force, and rate.