Find your voice!

Here are tech­niques to en­sure peo­ple take no­tice when you speak

Women's Weekly (Malaysia) - - Inspire -

STRIKE A POSE

How you stand, sit and hold your­self af­fects the clar­ity and strength of your voice.

“Women tend to cross their legs and their arms and if you are twisted or un­bal­anced, your head comes for­ward and your voice be­comes stran­gled,” ex­plains Dr Mahler. So you sound tense and your voice is weaker and un­clear.

TRY THIS Stand with your feet apart, knees re­laxed, and pelvis tucked un­der, with your chest out and shoul­ders back. Keep your shoul­ders and arms re­laxed and place your hands in front, one hold­ing the other wrist.

BREATHE EASY

To speak with a clear, strong voice you need to breathe deeply, and to do this ef­fec­tively your di­aphragm – the mus­cle be­low your lungs – must be soft and flex­i­ble.

“When we feel stressed, our di­aphragm locks and the lungs, which sit on top of the di­aphragm, can’t ex­pand prop­erly. In­stead of ex­pand­ing down­wards, they ex­pand up­wards, which makes the voice tense,” says Dr Mahler. And a tense voice gives away that you are ner­vous, an­gry and wor­ried. TRY THIS Use a “cover cough” to re­lease your di­aphragm. Cough as if you’re clear­ing your throat and pull your stom­ach in sharply.

EYES UP

If we look up­wards our voice tends to rise and when we look down­wards the tone and vol­ume drops. So when you need a rea­soned voice and want your words to have im­pact and be lis­tened to, keep your gaze steady, ad­vises Dr Mahler. TRY THIS Main­tain eye con­tact but keep your face soft by nod­ding, blink­ing or smil­ing. “Blink about 15 times a minute to avoid star­ing un­com­fort­ably,” says Dr Mahler.

OPEN YOUR MOUTH

Elvis Pres­ley knew how to make the most of his voice. “When he started to sing and when he fin­ished a phrase, he had his mouth open,” says Dr Mahler. “But when we are un­der pres­sure we shut our mouth to block com­mu­ni­ca­tion.”

TRY THIS Open your mouth about 3cm and sound out vowel sounds from the back of your throat. “Loosen your jaw and keep the air flow­ing by blow­ing rasp­ber­ries,” says Dr Mahler.

USE YOUR THROAT

Our throat is home to our lar­ynx, which helps us make sound, but when we feel emo­tional the lar­ynx closes. “We get that semi-closed, tight voice,” ex­plains Dr Mahler. The vo­cal folds in our throat also get in the way. Th­ese are bands of stretchy tis­sue sit­ting just un­der the epiglot­tis – a valve that cov­ers our tra­chea or wind­pipe when we swal­low.

TRY THIS Keep your neck up­right so your lar­ynx sits flat – and smile. “If you lift the cheeks un­der the eyes the vo­cal folds re­tract back into the lin­ing of the throat and the best way to do this is by smil­ing,” says Dr Mahler.

GET MOV­ING

Our voice be­comes muf­fled and quiet when we’re static, often when we’re ner­vous. Our di­aphragm locks and out mouth and throat close. “Our legs can feel weak or numb but move­ment sends blood to the lower body and reen­gages it,” says Dr Mahler.

TRY THIS When you’re talk­ing, ei­ther one-on-one or in a group, move slightly to re­lease ten­sion. If you’re sit­ting, move slightly back in your chair and then for­ward. If you’re stand­ing in front of an au­di­ence, move around a lit­tle.

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