Voice Skills

by Judy Apps

How can I avoid sounding childish?

A continuously high-pitched voice can sound childish, as you might expect. It’s certainly not the impression you want others to have of you, but first...

Check that this is true

Remember that we cannot hear our own voices accurately from the inside, so your voice might not be as high as you think. Check with other people that you trust and ask them for feedback. Listen to a recording of your voice, and be aware that even recordings usually cut out some of the low resonance in your voice.

Avoiding sounding childish

If you have checked out your voice and feel that you need to make some changes, below are five tips that will help you to avoid sounding childish.

1. Resonate from the body

If you want to sound confident and adult, your voice needs to resonate from your body as well as in your head. If you just use head resonance, your voice will sound high and childish. Have a look at Chest resonance and then try the following exercise.

Exercise

Place your hand on your chest and relax. Visualise or sense your voice emanating from your chest or lower down, instead of from your head, and then speak easily from that place.

Now speak again from your head: hear the difference in voice quality?

Alternate the voices, and notice what you do differently to produce the body sounds.

2. Breathe low in your body

You should also remember to breathe using your diaphragm and lower muscles, and then sense the voice coming from the same place.

4. Find your optimum pitch

Your voice will sound right for you if it is at your natural pitch.

Exercise

In an easy, half-hummed ‘Bom, bom-bom, bom’ sort of voice, quietly sing a couple of lines of a simple song, such as your National Anthem or Happy Birthday. Then speak comfortably at that pitch.

And try this...

When someone speaks to you and you agree, say ‘Mmm’ or ‘Umm’ as a non-verbal encourager. When it’s your turn to speak, come from the same pitch.

5. Be at ease

Your voice is affected by your state of mind. When you get tense around the shoulders and neck, your voice tends to rise in pitch. Then, when you hear the higher voice, you may tighten up even more, setting up a vicious circle.

Breathe out; release the tension, and your voice will come out more naturally.

6. Grow up

Well, I expect you are already grown up! But a chronic high voice often stems from a habitual attitude of trying too hard and wanting to please others. Your voice can sometimes get stuck in a certain stage of development, when you were subject to the demands of others in a child role. Changing your voice then becomes the challenge of stepping into your adult power, knowing that you are fully responsible and answerable, ultimately, only to yourself.