What is it to “Give Great Voice?”

Audio for your listening pleasure!

Technology has been a great asset in expanding our communication. These days, we can communicate via text, email, Facebook, Tweet, and Snapchat, and much of the new norm is to “reach out” with these new virtual  forms.

But I believe with all my heart that using our voice is still our most important way to communicate.  We are human beings and our humanity relies on a certain amount of intimacy which is cultivated by touch, feeling and voice.

Say it’s a friend’s birthday –  We post “Happy Birthday!” on Facebook. Or if we’re checking in with a parent, we might send him a text. But what if we called them instead?

Think about the difference between, “I love you” spoken to someone you care about, versus the texted  “I heart U.” The spoken word is always going to be more meaningful. True human intimacy can’t be replaced with an app, especially as we are more and more disconnected, due to our “virtual connectedness.” We need to take time out to connect to our family, friends, and community in real time.

In our professional life, using our voice is especially important.  Because you can’t tweet your presentation or text your interview.  You have learn to do what I call, “Giving Great Voice.”

I call it Giving Great Voice because, when we’re expressing ourselves with our voices, it’s actually a beautiful gift we’re giving. When we take the time to call someone on their birthday or speak with them in person, it’s special – it’s a gift.

As Sherry Turkle says in her book, Reclaiming Conversation,”Human relationships are rich and they’re messy and they’re demanding, and we clean them up with technology. And when we do, we sacrifice our conversation for mere “connection.”

Open-ended conversations are risky and imperfect – there’s no spell check or time to make it look just right.  Face-to-face (or voice-to-voice) intimacy requires courage and vulnerability,but the rewards of creating and sustaining meaningful relationships makes it worth it!

So how do we Give Great Voice? How do we use this powerful communication tool most effectively in our lives? I’ve been a voice actor and actor for over twenty-five years, and I think the secret is to start to think like an actor or voice actor.  I believe that each of us can become a voice actor in our own lives.

The first tip is to think about your intention when you speak. Do you want to inspire, command, calm, cajole? How can your voice best communicate that intention?

For example, say you want your teenager to pick up his socks for the hundredth time. You probably wouldn’t use the same tone with him that you would use to ask your boss for a raise. So what’s difference? Your intention. And your intention changes the tone.

How we say “please pick up your socks” is going to have much more impact than the actual words we use.  The old saying you can attract a lot more bees with honey than vinegar is a good analogy. So say it with a “sweet sound” instead of a “sour sound” and you might just get them to pick them up.. again.

My father, who was my first acting teacher, used to say, “I love you” can mean a thousand different things. It can mean, “ I love you” or “I need money.” It can mean “Have a good day,” or “I hate you.”  He would teach me, “The intention is much more important than the words themselves.”Understanding this is the first step in learning how to Give Great Voice.

So the next time you’re thinking of texting your bestie, or instant messaging your parents, why not  pick up the phone and “Give Great Voice” instead? You just might make their day!