There have been times when I have been told that I am lucky to have a good speaking voice. And some people are impressed that I rarely use a microphone in my seminars, even with hundreds of people in the audience.
People will conclude that I have been “blessed” with a powerful set of vocal cords. But it is not true. As I related in an earlier chapter, my voice used to be no better than a feeble monotone. That is, until I got motivated to change it. There were two instances that inspired my system for developing my voice. The first was a magazine interview I read many years ago about the actorRichard Burton (who had perhaps the most mesmerizing speaking voice of all time—listen to the Broadway recording of “Camelot” and hear him as King Arthur speak and “sing” his songs.) In the interview, Burton said that his voice was how he made his living, so he made certain that each morning while showering he sang a number of songs to keep his vocal cords strong and supple. Later, on a television talk show, actorTony Randall told the host how he developed his trademark sing-song acting voice: “I took up opera,” he said. “I found that singing opera did more for my stage voice than anything else I ever tried.”
Those two interviews have stayed in my mind ever since, and I alway scarry a number of tapes and CDs in my car to sing along with. I crank them up good and loud (this is best done while driving alone) and sing at the top of my lungs. I make certain that I do this every day, even when I don’t feel like singing. In the words of William James, there’s another benefit: “We don’t sing because we’re happy, we’re happy because wesing.”
Prior to a major public speech, I’ll often get to my location more than an hour ahead of time and then just drive around the neighborhood singing like a madman. (Sometimes I worry that my host client might drive by and spot me in my car singing along with Elvis and looking dangerously psychotic. But the benefits are worth that risk.) I find that when I drive and sing like that my breathing is better, my timing is better, and when Is peak, my voice effortlessly fills the hall.
You might think, “I don’t speak for a living.” So such a weird practice might not be necessary for you. But we all speak. A pleasant, relaxed, and strong speaking voice is a priceless asset to anyone whose job involves communicating with other humans.When referring to people whose speaking voices are pleasing to listen to, many people use words like “melodious” and “well-modulated.” This is a good hint to tell if someone is complimenting a great speaking voice.You are not stuck with the voice you have now. Start singing, and soon you’ll be creating the voice you’d like to have. The stronger your voice, the stronger your confidence and the stronger your confidence, the easier it is to motivate yourself.