Public Speaking – Exercise for a BREATHY VOICE

This is an AI generated transcript so please forgive any errors and spelling mistakes.

Hi, do you ever feel that your voice doesn’t cut through? Perhaps because it’s too breathy? If I were to repeat the same sentence again [speech changes: if I have to repeat the same sentence again] without my vocal cords coming together [speech changes: without my vocal cords coming together] it’s very hard to project any volume or resonance when you speak.

We’ll look at that in just a few moments. First of all, my name is Shola Kaye. I’m a professional speaker a speaking coach and I’m based in London with clients all over the world.

Public Speaking – the downside of a breathy voice

Just recently somebody came to me and asked me for some advice over some written content that they had spoken and that they were planning to use as a podcast recording. This particular person had a very breathy voice and one of the problems with a breathy voice is you don’t get very much volume when you’re speaking. Another problem with having a very breathy voice is that it can become fatiguing to listen to by the audience. If you can imagine a breathy voice speaking on a podcast for half an hour, or an hour.

Typically, if a sound is quite breathy it has a lot of high frequencies in it anyway. The high frequency is combined with the tininess of the speaker on your laptop or the speaker on your mobile phone or your headphones combined together, to make the sound quite fatiguing and tiring to listen to over a long period of time. If you’re somebody who typically has a voice that’s a little bit breathy or high-pitched and you’re feeling it doesn’t cut through enough, then the next exercise I’m going to share with you all (the only exercise today, one at a time here) should help you to improve that.

Some of you know I was and have been a professional singer for a good number of years, more than a decade, and when I started out singing, and when anyone starts singing typically they have to learn a lot of exercises. You’re running through scales, different scales. You’re using different exercises with different kind of vocal tones and different onset into the words and so on.

Public Speaking – try this exercise to add more power to your voice

One of the exercises which is really good for breathy voice is what we used to call edgy M. Edgy because you’re starting with an edgy sound and ends because M is the consonant that we are going to vocalise on. So, an edgy M would sound something like this [vocalising]. As opposed to a breathy M which would be [vocalising]. What we’re trying to do here is to get your vocal cords to come together, because when your vocal cords come together what it means if you’ve got a lot more resonance in your voice. Also, there’s a lot more power when you speak and you can cut through much better and be much more audible and also have a better sound and richer sound that’s much easier to listen to.

So if you can imagine just singing a scale with that edgy M sound, so if you start wherever you like wherever it’s comfortable. So I’ll start here [vocalising]. What you should feel is a buzzing around here, around your nose and the front of your face the mouth. If you feel that buzzing that means it’s working. Let’s do it again. We’ll start on a different note this time [vocalising]. And of course you can do that throughout the whole range of your voice. Or you can take a song and sing that instead using again the edgy M. Typically, a nice easy one to do is happy birthday [vocalising]. Again, you should be feeling that buzzing in the front of your face, which means that it’s working.

If you can imagine singing happy birthday [singing happy birthday to you] without your vocal cords coming together you’ll sound like Elmer Fudd. I don’t know, some of you might be too young to remember Elmer Fudd. He was a cartoon character with a very quavering weak sounding voice [vocalising] like that. So, if you speak with your vocal cords not coming together that’s how you’ll sound. You’ll sound weak, your sound breathy. you won’t sound like you’re somebody who’s in charge and in control.

Public Speaking – you are in control of how your voice sounds

Whereas if you speak with the vocal cords together like this what you’ll find, that does sound a bit nasal, but what you’ll find is your voice will carry a lot better. You can of course play with it until you have a sound that you like so perhaps a little bit less nasal and a little bit richer. I want you to understand that you’re in control of how your voice sounds to other people and to yourself. You don’t have to just accept the sounds that come out of your mouth.

Indeed, a lot of the work that vocal coaches do with their clients is to change the tone, possibly change the pitch a little bit. Obviously, there are other things we can change as well but to have you sounding like somebody who’s much more in control, somebody who’s easier to listen to and also what happens at the same time is there’s less fatigue and strain on your voice so you can speak for longer and you cut through a lot better.

What I suggest you to do is every time you’re about to make a speech or a presentation or even when you’re practicing at home, run through that edgy M exercise. You can either do a couple of scale starting at the lower part of your voice and working up as high as you can and coming back down, or you can sing a song. Doesn’t even have to be happy birthday.

Public Speaking – work on it, the results may surprise you

It could be your favourite song that you sing along to on them in the morning on the radio or on your phone or wherever but using that [vocalising] edgy sound to get you through rather than singing the words. I hope that’s helpful to you. If you have a breathy voice never feel that you’ve got to just lump it and deal with that. And sort of learn to love it because you can work on it.

I’ve had a number of clients where I’ve just taught them some very simple vocal exercises and they said “Wow, that really helps. I never thought that I could make my voice louder or stronger or have it cut through better”. That’s it from me today. I hope that was helpful to you. If you’re interested in more work on the voice I have a whole module on it or part of the module on the voice on gravitas on enunciation and that’s part of my 6 Weeks to Speaking Success course. You can check that out on my website under the work with me header.

Hope that helps. Remember your edgy M and for now I’ll say goodbye.


P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you improve your speaking or grow your business:

1 – Get my free guide – 5 frameworks to ace a short speech.

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