November 13, 2012 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Teach me how to sound pretty and mesmerizing!

I get quite nervous in social situations so I clam up and don't breathe properly and my voice sounds so strangled and low.. It's distracting and it's making my social anxiety worse and I have hated it forever!! Are there ways for me to change this? Are there books I could read that could give me practical advice? Or techniques that I might benefit from? Thanks mefites :)
posted by dinosaurprincess to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a vocal coach you can go to? Or find a local Toastmasters so that you get more comfortable?
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:02 AM on November 13, 2012

Speech therapy can help this! I had this problem a lot when I was younger - strangled breathing was making my speech ... weird - and speech therapy helped immensely. I assume a vocal coach could do much the same thing.
posted by elizardbits at 10:04 AM on November 13, 2012

Have a look at this book, The Voice of Influence.

Also, practice practice practice. Spend time speaking in public in situations where you can be assured of the goodwill of your audience. Toastmasters is good. So are storytelling events. The more you do this, the better you'll be at it.
posted by gauche at 10:06 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you need to deal with your social anxiety. Whether it's Social Anxiety that requires a therapist, or social anxiety that just requires giving yourself a little confidence boost or more practice in social situations, that seems like the best solution. Otherwise, what you're asking would be like having a car with a bad part and saying, "How do I stop it from making this rattling sound without fixing the broken part." I would add, I doubt people notice it at all and I am sure it's one of those things only you notice. When you are there in person talking to people, no one is judging how your voice sounds. Forcing yourself to change your voice could be more conspicuous. I'd just try to do things to make yourself feel more confident, or if the social anxiety is severe, talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist.

That said, there may be breathing techniques that can help. I had a friend who did voice therapy (for something else) and it worked well even though it seemed like pretty straightforward exercises. You would just need to practice them a lot. It took my friend many weeks to fix her particular problem, but it worked.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:07 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree that you need to deal with your social anxiety, but that is somewhat independent of how to start talking Mesmerizing and Fabulous, a most laudable goal.

Get individual voice coaching. Singing lessons will do for this, but actors' coaches are also good and will focus on articulation a bit more. There is no point doing this in group sessions, so stump up the money. Also take some improvisational drama classes.

Training your voice is one of the best things you can do for yourself to increase your General Seductiveness. Voices do age, too, so keeping your voice healthy will keep you an Ageless Beauty for as long as possible.

Really, there's every reason to go for this. I am actually excited for you!
posted by tel3path at 10:51 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Try some yoga or meditation that trains you to pay attention to your breathing and relax. As soon as I start feeling anxious in social settings, I come back to my breath and find myself able to talk in a very relaxed, unstrangled way.
posted by callmejay at 10:55 AM on November 13, 2012

I decided to give biofeedback a shot. Why not? I settled on the emWave2.

I'm new to using the device, but it is mostly about breathing -- at least it is for me at this early stage.

Although I'm terrible at it right now I can already tell the difference, emotionally, when I practice. Plus, I am starting to notice when I tense up and then I start on the slow breathing.
posted by trinity8-director at 12:01 PM on November 13, 2012

Find a way to force yourself into more social situations where you have to talk, even if it means going on more first dates or going to events with groups like meetin.org (or meetup.org - I don't know which is better), or maybe toastmasters? Or who knows what other social groups... The more you can become confident in those situations, the easier you will find it to be a better communicator. Take it from a guy who knows!
posted by 2oh1 at 6:37 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

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