To become aware of your vocal image you must first listen to yourself. Make several recordings of yourself speaking in different ways:
- Record yourself talking aloud in normal conversation for two to three minutes.
- Record yourself reading two pieces of contrasting material for two to three minutes. For instance, some prose from a mystery novel and some text from an instruction manual.
- Record yourself giving instructions (perhaps directions to a local café) or giving a speech without using a script for two to three minutes.
After you make the recordings, listen to each one and give yourself some honest feedback. Write down how you think people hear your voice. For example, “My voice sounds shaky when I’m nervous,” “People may have trouble hearing me,” or “People may think I’m yelling at them.” You may want to ask others what they think as well.
Ask yourself how your vocal image compares with the impression you want to make. If there is a gap, you will need to work on it. When your sound doesn’t match how you represent yourself, people may question your integrity. You can close the gap by experimenting with your voice and recording yourself as above. Listen to the recordings over a period of time to increase your awareness. You can also keep a journal of daily observations of your vocal image, solicit feedback from your others or study with a voice coach.
Every day, people fail in their communication simply because the vocal image their words create through cadence, volume and clarity don’t align with their message and their intention. Make sure that yours do!
Related posts: What's your vocal image? (part 1 of this series)