Developing a more Irresistible Voice... (practical tips)

an earlier version of this post first appeared in one of Jamie Smart's newsletters back in 2005.

For more than a decade, I've been recognized as an expert on voice development, both amongst Neuro-Linguistic Programmers, and outside of that domain as well. With my audio program "Finding Your Irresistible Voice" being my most popular home-study resource, it's no wonder my customers and students have asked for additional material in this area, to help them improve their voice even further.

I've also had the opportunity to run multiple "Irresistible Voice" NLP workshops, in NYC, in Melbourne Australia, London UK, San Francisco, and elsewhere... and the pleasure and privilege of extensively coaching at least 1000 different people (students and coaching clients included) on improving the quality of their voices, not to mention offering thousands of people quick & targeted suggestions for vocal improvement, based on whatever I was hearing them do & say while they spoke with me briefly or during teleconferences. It's one of the most common interests I experience, both at my own events and when I visit other trainers' courses.

In short, without doing anything intentional to get to this point, I now have ample additional experience and knowledge working with vocal improvement, far beyond the level I was at, at the time when I first produced the "Irresistible Voice" CDs back in 1998.

Back in 2005, I attended an Influence course given by Kenrick Cleveland down in Miami Beach as a guest. While there, I was asked to spend 30 minutes working with Kenrick's student group to train them on the value of improving their tonality and resonance. So I spent 15 minutes training a range of techniques, and then worked individually with a handful of "voice-challenged" participants. I asked the audience members who thought they could use some vocal improvement, and from the group that responded, I hand-picked 4 specific people who I felt could improve the most, in a very short period of time. My intuition was sorting for poor posture, poor breathing patterns, poor voicebox timing, excessive speed and muscular interruptions, etc.

I ended up doing what I would call "rapid voice interventions" to show what we could do with each person -- by offering exercises & suggestions that each person could do to uniquely improve their voice. In each case, the "diagnoses" were different, the "treatments" were different, but the results & "prognoses" the same: the "problem" voices were replaced by warm, resonant voices, getting a round of applause for every example.

No one is beyond help -- anyone can (and most people should) improve their voice. ESPECIALLY people interested in NLP and/or Hypnosis.

In fact, one of the guys that had the most fun with (and says he got the most from) my mini-workshop was a fellow with an absolutely World-Class voice (in my opinion). He said he had gotten coaching from another audio program author, and that author told him his biggest problem with his voice -- was that he (the person asking for voice coaching) didn't like his own voice enough, and he'd get the best results -- by just "getting over it" (i.e., getting past his own dislike, since other people loved his voice!). I told him I thought it was great advice, and we both ended the conversation agreeing that no matter how great we get our voices to sound, each of us can always find areas of improvement.

My own biggest area of continuous voice improvement is a really tough call for me -- it's my slightly nasal sound, which comes from my deviated septom. I could have the nasal surgery to get past that, but... I've heard some horror stories about people who've done the surgery and then had additional sinus problems for years afterwards. So I work my butt off to improve & continually refine other qualities of my voice, which overshadow the slightly nasal quality it sometimes has.

So, to get your mouth watering for further development, here's a couple of ideas for each of you to explore when improving your voice.

Stand up when you're talking on the phone.

Smile when you speak to people. It engages FAR better tonality.

Breathe deep using your belly. If your rib cage is expanding measurably, you're not using your belly. Breathe in, belly goes out. Breathe out, belly comes back in.

Drink -only- water. Juice, Coffee, caffeine, sugar -- all will help constrict your vocal cords, and diminish your voice. A lot more than you think it does. Fact, not Fiction. Besides, drinking more/only water is much healthier for you anyway, as if that wasn't reason enough to forego the rest.

If you have to speak for long periods of time, use a Glycerin Spray on the back of your throat. A speaker's little-known mastery tip! Keeps the throat moist. Great stuff!

Imagine your vocal tract as though the space inside it were solid. Look for the tight, angular, constricted spots. Change or open up your posture to loosen and open up those constricted areas. Create a larger, more open wind-instrument in your vocal tract. Move/rock your body back & forth, until that more open posture feels more natural/comfortable.

Learn to speak using a metronome. Practice different rhythms until it's absolutely second nature to synchronize with different rhythms presented to you.

Learn as many different accents as you can. The nuances you'll develop with shifting your vocal qualities -- will make you world-class at mirroring other people's voices.

These are just a few good additional suggestions. I have so many more -- even better than the above -- and -- these should keep you going for a while! Feel free to email me & tell me how these go for you!