Have you ever thought to yourself, “I hate the way my voice sounds”? Maybe it gives you extra anxiety before a presentation, or you’ve even turned down speaking opportunities because of it. Did you know you could learn how to improve your speaking voice?
Well, your reservations stop here, because my guest today is Ita Olsen, the founder and CEO of Convey Clearly. Ita is an expert on communication, and she helps celebrities, politicians and regular, ordinary business folk sound confident, smooth and clear.
If you’ve ever wondered, “How do I improve the sound of my voice?” or thought, “I hate my voice and I want to fix it,” then we recorded this episode just for you. Learn how to improve your speaking voice.
Communicate Beyond Verbal Delivery
We’ve probably all taken a public speaking class at some point, but generally we aren’t taught broader communication skills in school. “Developing our ability to make small talk, introduce yourself, deliver bad news or deal with confrontation: These are all things that involve our communication skills,” Ita says. “And we never address them in school — or, I should say, very, very rarely.”
Because we’re graded on pronunciation and enunciation, we reduce our definition of communication to our verbal delivery. But communicating is about so much more than that, Ita says. “Communication is establishing and maintaining and deepening relationships with people,” she says. “You’re not going to reach people by making sure that you pronounce each letter and each syllable, because that just sounds pompous.”
Release the Tension
Effective communication comes down to knowing and controlling our bodies, Ita says. We tense up when we’re put in uncomfortable situations, and that affects not just how we speak, but how we breathe and carry ourselves, too. You’ve probably noticed that you do your best work when you’re relaxed. So the key to becoming the best communicator you can be is — you guessed it — to learn how to relax the tension in your body. This is how to improve your speaking voice.
“I teach people to locate the tension in their body, become very familiar with it and be able to identify it immediately,” Ita says. “And then I teach them to release it.” And let me tell you: Learning to relax the muscles in your face, neck and shoulders will change everything. When you control the tension within yourself, you can command a room.
Exercise Your Skills and Your Confidence
Great communication skills don’t just happen. The Barack Obamas of the world are excellent speakers because they practice. “I’m not an incredible communicator automatically in my life. And there’s no such thing,” Ita says. “We have proficiencies, certainly, like Tiger Woods has his proficiency, but he needs to continue to train and practice. And it’s the same with communication skills.”
You also have to believe in what you’re saying. Confidence is so vital to effective communication. Even if you’re in an entry-level position, you still have to relay important information to your boss. Every role is important, and communication affects so much of what we do in our daily lives. So remember: Your message matters.