Here’s a technique that can make you 75% more successful than your peers when it comes to improving your speaking voice.
What’s the hardest part of changing your voice? It’s not the technique. The skills involved in voice training aren’t difficult. No one ever failed because they couldn’t do the exercises. The hardest part of voice training is changing your habits.
You’ve been speaking from a very young age, so the habits governing your speech are deeply ingrained. They don’t change because you watch a video or even take a few voice lessons. Replacing old limiting habits with new effective habits takes weeks and months of consistent and diligent practice. This is why people fail in voice training.
Any strategy that will support and accelerate the process of changing your physical habits will greatly enhance your chances of success. One technique I recommend is the use of Action Triggers. Peter Gollwitzer, a psychologist at NYU pioneered the research in this area. He claims that action triggers essentially create instant habits. That gets your attention, doesn’t it?
What’s an action trigger? It’s when you identify a desired behavior you want to reinforce, and attach it to a specific activity you routinely perform every day. For example, “Every time I answer the phone I’ll practice taking a deep breath.” That’s an action trigger.
Gollwitzer claims that action triggers bypass the need to consciously remember to practice and they make your environment responsible for triggering the desired behavior. Going back to our example, the ringing of the phone, not your poor overloaded brain, triggers the action, taking a deep breath.
A large meta-study found that people who set action triggers are about 75% more successful at changing behaviors and learning new skills than people who don’t.
How do you set an action trigger? Pick the skill or behavior you want to reinforce. Be specific, let’s say, relaxing your shoulders. Identify the activity that will trigger the practice, for example, getting up from a chair, again, being very specific.
Rehearse the action trigger 10 times to “set” the sequence. Physically do it. Pretty soon, every time you stand up you’ll automatically relax your shoulders, and you’ve got yourself an action trigger.
As you can imagine, you might install any number of action triggers. But don’t try to set several at once. Pick a strategic skill, establish an action trigger, and when that trigger is working consistently, then move on to set another.
Once they’re set, action triggers are very persistent. I’ve known them to last for months or even years. That’s great for activities like voice and speech training that require long-term attention.
Your success in voice training doesn’t result just from taking lessons and learning exercises. It’s determined by your ability to change a whole range of specific habitual behaviors. The action trigger technique is a powerful and practical tool to help that happen as quickly as possible.