Can I change my voice?
February 27, 2008 8:52 AM   Subscribe

I have a very soft and high pitch voice. I also speak quietly, and mumble a lot. When speaking on the telephone, I often hear that I sound like a little girl.

I am 31. I feel that people often don't take me seriously because of my voice. Can I change color and tone of my voice? How? What classes should I take? Public speaking? Assertiveness?
posted by anonymous to Education (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Are you male or female?
posted by mamessner at 8:57 AM on February 27, 2008

Take an improv class. You experiment with different voices, ways of carrying yourself, etc to inhabit "low status", "high status" etc. These are lessons you can apply to real life interactions.
posted by sweetkid at 9:05 AM on February 27, 2008

You might want to look into the Alexander Technique. Actors use the technique to increase the power of their voice without straining. I took lessons for a while and it made a tremendous difference.
posted by icanbreathe at 9:08 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Your question reminds me of this story on NPR from last year; a reporter interviews various people on the topic of women sounding like little girls. Don't know if you're a man or a woman, but regardless, voice training might help. The same techniques that apply to singing can help you control your speaking voice.
posted by bloggerwench at 9:20 AM on February 27, 2008

I've been told that singing in the shower, but trying to sing one octave lower than you usually do is a good way of adding some bass to you voice.
posted by furtive at 9:20 AM on February 27, 2008

I would look for a voice coach, and ask to be sure they train speakers as well as singers. Public speaking and assertiveness may be helpful as well, but you need a voice coach for technical tips on how to make your voice deeper and more powerful.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:43 AM on February 27, 2008

If you feel that strongly I would find a voice coach to help but a couple of things to think about.

Take a really deep breath. Did your shoulders move up a whole bunch? Or did your stomach expand out? Make sure that you are taking deep breaths all the way into your diaphragm. Breath support is very important in speech just like singing.

Here are a few exercises to help with diaphragm breathing. 1) Put your hands on both of your sides and bend your upper body to 45 degrees or over. Take a deep breath and remember how that feels as that should force you to breath correctly. 2) Lay flat on the floor with a book on your stomach. Take deep breaths and concentrate on making the book move up and down.

The other thing you can do when you speak is focus on something in the distance. Try to push your speech to that area with your stomach.

The last thing you might try (and this is more of a singing tip really but hey, it might work) is think of the inside of your mouth as a cathedral that you have to fill with air/sound.
posted by Silvertree at 10:43 AM on February 27, 2008

You could start smoking cigarettes. Lots of them.

My grandma sounds like a trucker after 60 years of smoking. :)

But more seriously--I have a friend that is a bit squeaky and she went to a voice coach. She sounds a little better. The only time she really sounds too different to me is when she's REAL mad at me. Maybe you can harness some anger.
posted by rocket_johnny at 12:12 PM on February 27, 2008

I recently noticed how how-pitched my voice gets when I'm tentative or feeling out-ranked. I've concentrated on speaking slowly (my own personal demon, since I can rattle like an auctioneer), thoughtfully, and assertively. Just ending sentences on a downward note makes me sound much more mature than when I get sucked into the mode of ending every sentence with a false question mark. (Well it was yesterday? I went to the store? And I got bananas?) I've also tried to replace Umms and Uhhs with silence, which definitely helps me sound more grown-up and less like a little girl.
posted by bassjump at 1:51 PM on February 27, 2008

Seconding bassjump, especially since you said you "mumble". Sounds like you don't take what you're saying seriously. Try to think "firm, authority, clarity" or something similar when saying something you want to be taken seriously. Speak slowly, clearly, and emphatically. You will automatically sound more like an adult.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:57 PM on February 27, 2008

Incidentally, I have a different problem -- for whatever reason, my voice gets a different, gentler timbre when I call someone on the phone, and I am nearly *always* referred to as "ma'am" ("I'm a dude"). I feel like I don't change my voice when I'm talking in person though.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:58 PM on February 27, 2008

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