Interview with America's #1 Vocal Coach Roger Love, Part III
It's keynote time. Your content is solid. Your speech down cold. Your presentation deck dialed. You are ready to Tell It Like It Is. But have you given any thought to your sound?
Studies show that you definitely should.
We've all witnessed it: A monotone whisperer reading from slides. Even if the content was spot on, you'd never know because he lost you at hello.
But what if you could combine killer content with Beyonce's ability to captivate an audience?
There is a reason Roger Love is considered America's #1 vocal coach. And it's not only because he's transformed the voices of John Mayer, Jeff Bridges, Tyra Banks, and the cast of the mega-hit TV series Glee.
It's because he can transform any voice.
When I started working with Roger, I wanted to improve my public speaking skills to more effectively Tell It Like It Is. Within days (yes, days) I could hear the difference in my voice. It felt like I'd gone from black & white to technicolor.
But you don't need to be Jeff Bridges or Tyra Banks to have access to Roger's life-altering techniques. You can start right now with Roger's top 3 tips for aspiring and seasoned speakers, and continue with the three bonus tips below.
Roger Love Tip #4: Buzz, Baby, Buzz!
Where are you on the tone scale? Airy like Marilyn or edgy like Count Dracula?
Either could be unpleasant to your audience.
Marilyn works great in the bedroom, but might be perceived as unprofessional in the boardroom. And Tony can come across as harsh or overbearing in either setting.
Find a nice happy medium between edge and air, and your voice will have the perfect tone quality.
Exercise: Send the right amount of air to the right amount of cord
1: Say, "Brat" and hold out the "A".
2. Say the "A" like Marilyn, very breathy.
3. Say the "A" like Count Dracula, without any breath ("I want. to suck. your blood.").
4. Now quickly switch between these two extremes a few times and then settle into the middle where you feel a buzz in the very back part of your throat, no pain, just a thick buzzy sound. If you don't hear or feel that, you have too much or not enough air coming out and you still need to look for more cord vibration.
Sending the right amount of air to the right amount of cord will create that thick buzzy sound that pleases your audience. And if you run out of air while you're speaking, just STOP, take a breath and then get back into your sentence, back to that buzz.
Roger Love Tip #5: Befriend Punctuation
What's your pace? Do you lull like Forest Gump or rouse like the Micro Machine Man?
We've all listened to people who speak too slow or too fast, and we perceive them in different ways.
When someone speaks too slow, we often get the instant impression that this person doesn't really know what he's going to say next. Maybe he's not the sharpest tool in the shed.
At the other end of the spectrum, when someone speaks too fast, we often feel like he's hiding something, that we might not be able to trust him completely. It feels like this person is trying to pull one over on us, rush us through the content so we miss things we shouldn't miss. The listener doesn't have time to process what he's hearing.
By finding a happy medium between these two, you'll sound trustful, confident, and intelligent.
Exercise: Love your pauses.
1: Practice the intro to your next speech with a close friend. How did she perceive your pace? Did she feel rushed through the information or bored out of her mind?
2: From her feedback, use punctuation - commas, semicolons, periods - to create a nice, even speed, slowing down or speeding up as need be. Remember: punctuation is your friend!
Imagine your speech as a tennis match. Serve, rally, rally, rally, win, then return to the baseline for your next move. The silence between the sound, returning to the baseline, is essential if you want to have any chance of winning the next point!
Roger Love Tip #6: Pitch It Up
How's your pitch? Barry White or Michael Jackson?
Speaking too low can be perceived as nonchalant, uncaring, or bland. People who spend all their time at the bottom of the range can sound very authoritative and strict.
This voice might convey power, but not necessarily personality.
Speaking too high, on the other hand, can sound unnatural. Too many high notes ("head voice") can be unsettling to the listener.
There's no point in having three octaves of range and only staying in one. So, while we mostly want to stay in between these two extremes, we also want to switch it up every now and then.
Exercise: Find your chest voice
1: Put your four fingers (no thumb) on your stomach right below your sternum. Now go to the lowest part of your range and say "oooohhh," while pressing with your fingers in a rapid, pulsating motion that pushes your stomach in. Notice what happens to your pitch when you do this. It should have gone to a much higher note.
2: Concentrate on where that pushing is sending your voice; that note is closer to where you should be speaking. It's called "chest voice." All women and men should primarily speak in chest voice. When you're in chest voice, you will feel lots of resonance, cord vibration, and that solid stream of air we talked about earlier.
If you think you're too high or too low based on the diagnostic test above (and maybe what others have told you), practice going to the other end. Moderating your pitch will add emphasis and interest to what you're saying and help keep the listeners attention.
Remember that none of these tips work in isolation. They are all connected.
Volume, melody, and diaphragmatic breathing (Tips 1-3) will all help regulate tone, pace, and pitch. For example, it's really easy to speak very fast if you stay on one note. So adjust your melody and pace will follow.
See other interviews from this series with top business and life leaders:
Dean Karnazes - How to Run Over Fear & Take Action
Patrik Frisk - What Does Simplicate Mean Exactly?
Nadine Hack - The Art of the Master Bridge Builder
Edited by Suzanne Pinckney
About Roger: Roger Love is recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on voice. No other vocal coach in history has been more commercially successful in both the speaking and singing fields. He has vocally produced more than 100 million CD sales worldwide, written 3 top selling books, Set Your Voice Free, Sing Like the Stars, and Love Your Voice, created the bestselling audio programs Vocal Power...Speaking with Authority, Clarity & Conviction, and The Perfect Voice, produced and starred in the television advertised DVD, Love to Sing, and appeared as a regular in 3 major network TV shows, POPSTARS for The WB, ROCKSTAR/INXS for CBS, and THE ONE: Making a Music Star for ABC. Roger is the voice coach for the mega-hit TV show GLEE.