When it comes to changing your voice, many people don’t really believe it’s possible. After all, children learn languages much more easily than adults. However, in my experience as a Coach for voice and speech, the person’s motivation and attitude determine their success more accurately than age or ability. I’ve had clients who were very young and capable, but they didn’t really apply themselves, and as a result, they didn’t improve their speech much. I’ve also had clients who were older, had lots of issues to work on, and there were big gaps between where they were and where they wanted to be. I’ve always been delighted to work with the ones who were high achievers in other areas of their lives, so they understood the importance of having goals and seeking out guidance to help achieve them. Often by truly being open to learning something new and engaging actively in the exercises, people who were over 50 years old, with very entrenched habits in their body movement and speech, were able to make surprisingly deep lasting changes to how they “show up” in conversations, presentations and meetings.
How much change is possible? It’s a question we shouldn’t jump to judgment about. Self monitoring over months and years with a continual focus on achievement, questioning assumptions and continually re-evaluating where we are at and where we want to go is key. Sometimes clients can’t hear the difference between two words, for example, but they can learn to monitor their mouth movements and exaggerate until they can hear it. I’ve had clients come back to me 2 years later and tell me that one day they could hear the differences, just by continually doing the right exercises, staying curious and becoming more aware.
I’ve often pondered what enables people to make these deep changes over time, and some of things I’ve noticed are:
– Staying consistent and determined makes a huge difference. If you expect a “quick fix”, you’re likely to be disappointed, but you also don’t have to labor for hours. It’s best to create a clear vision of your speech goals and then stay committed to moving one step closer on a daily basis. Doing warm ups and daily routines to foster new habits creates lasting change.
– Open minded mentality is a big factor. If you think you can’t change, you won’t. Many of our habits are a choice, and just like exercise or weight control, it’s never too late to change your habits, and big changes can happen much more quickly than you realize if you don’t start from a self defeating conclusion.
– Introspection is also key. You can ask people for feedback, but it’s important not to rely on it. What you think of your own voice and how it serves you is paramount. You can’t be afraid to be yourself and own your voice. Ultimately, you are the only one whose opinion really matters about your own voice.
– Monitoring helps. If you record yourself, listen back objectively, and really note what has changed over time, you’ll also stay motivated. Being overly critical may not serve you. It’s more about weighing in regularly and changing up your routines so you continue to improve.
How much can you really change your voice and your speech? It’s really up to you!