When people ask you to repeat yourself, do you think that you have been speaking loudly enough? Do you often get interrupted when you are talking? Do you feel that no one is listening to you?
If you are soft-spoken, I’m sure that I just hit a nerve. You are being talked over or interrupted because those of us with larger voices tire of straining to hear you, tire of asking you to repeat yourself. If you want to be taken seriously, you must learn to increase your volume to what I describe as a normal volume level of sound.
The problem for most people who are soft-spoken is that their inner ear is accustomed to a softer volume level than that which is considered normal. [Please understand that I am talking about volume by American standards. There are many cultures that speak with less volume than we do in America.] The difficulty with the inner ear is that it lies. This is most apparent when you hear yourself on your voicemail. Your outer ear does not recognize the sound and, more than likely, doesn’t like the sound either. Unfortunately, what you hear on your voicemail is the truth.
For purposes of the soft-spoken, however, increasing your volume is a necessity if you want to succeed both in your personal life and in your professional life.
The adjectives attributed to the soft-spoken generally do not include the words strong, outgoing, or dynamic. Unfortunately, the words that describe those who speak softly tend to be shy, timid, or wimpy when in fact that may not be the case. If you are constantly being interrupted, however, then you are not being heard; and, unless others can hear you, your words, your thoughts, and your opinions are of no value.
Increasing your volume to a normal level of sound takes practice and the retraining of your inner ear. When I teach others how to find their ‘real’ voice, their inner ear is most accommodating and likes the new sound. The voice is richer, fuller, resonant and is easier to produce than the ‘old’ voice; however, retraining the inner ear to accept a larger volume of sound is a bit more difficult because you will think you are shouting when indeed you are not.
To see how soft-spoken you are, record someone else’s voice who is speaking at a normal volume level of sound. (Place the microphone 5-6 feet away.) Then record your own voice, keeping the same distance from the microphone. Play the tape back at a comfortable listening level for the 1st voice. Then listen to yourself. Do not adjust the volume. Was there a difference?
Sadly, those who go through life being talked over often have a lower self-esteem because they think that what they say is not important when in fact that is usually not the case.
Remember, if we can’t hear you, we stop listening. If you want to be heard, learn how to increase your volume properly. Your friends, your family and your colleagues will thank you.
Nancy Daniels is a voice specialist and president of Voice Dynamic. Working privately and corporately, she launched Voicing It! in April of 2006, the only video training course on voice improvement and presentation skills. To see what voice training can do for you, visit http://www.voicedynamic.com/specialaccessvoice.htm and watch Nancy’s 4 minute video clip, Tapping the Full Potential of the Speaking Voice
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