Making Good Speakers Great

Common Voice Problems for Men

“Men with Deep Voices Get the Girls”
“Men with Deep Voices Have More Children”
“Deep Voices Attract Voters”

Recent research coming out of McMaster, Aberdeen and other universities certainly inspires catchy headlines. We’re told that women find deep-voiced men more attractive and have better recollection of what they say. Men with deep voices have more babies, get more votesand are perceived as better leaders. They’re more often suspected of infidelity, but does that diminish the otherwise crushing advantages? It’s enough to make a guy want to jump down a well.

And that’s exactly what many men do—vocally. They plunge their voice into the very bottom of their range in an attempt to sound more masculine, authoritative and sexy. Ironically, when you speak too lowyou create throat tension, robbing your voice of its natural depth, power and impact. If you explore the middle of your range, allowing your voice to be just slightly higher than what you’re used to, you’ll discover a voice that sounds better, feels better and communicates more effectively. See this article for developing real, natural depth.

When you speak too low you tend to sound monotone. That’s partly because your voice has no room to move around. It can’t go down, and if you feel uncomfortable letting it go up, your delivery tends to be rather flat and expressionless. So again, one way of enhancing expressiveness is to move into the middle of your range. But the primary strategy is to breathe. In my experience, when you learn to breathe well, as it relates to speaking, you automatically become more expressive and interesting. See this article for more on expressiveness.

Another common characteristic of male voices is they tend to beretracted, pulled back into the throat. When you try to force your voice lower, you unconsciously pull down the back of your tongue. That traps your voice in your throat so it sounds tense and constricted. Your listeners feel as though you’re pulling back and unwilling to fully engage with them. That has serious implications for your effectiveness as a speaker. The solution? Breathing and tongue relaxation. If breath flows forward, sound flows forward. And if the root of your tongue isn’t blocking your throat, then breath and sound flow even more generously. See this article for more on openness.

If your pitch is too low and you’re pulling back on your voice, then you tend to start mumbling, and two small problems combine to create a big problem. When people continually struggle to understand you, they eventually stop trying. If you have something to say, then say it with commitment. While you can’t control how others respond, you do control what you put out there. So don’t fail to make an impact because you didn’t give them anything to work with. Engage your whole voice and come forward. See this article for strategies to enhance clarity.

You probably won’t have a voice that sounds like James Earl Jones, but you most certainly do have a voice with its own potential for strength, richness and clarity. Opening up, using breath generously and exploiting the middle of your range will take you a lot further than jamming your voice down into your throat, trying to force it deeper. And if all else fails, find comfort in recent research showing that men with deep voices tend to have lower sperm counts.

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