Is That Really My Voice on My Answering Machine?
As difficult as it may be to accept, what you hear on your voicemail or your answering machine is the truth: the voice by which everyone recognizes you. The voice you hear in your head is sound perceived by your inner ear and that sound is a lie.
When I was a child I would talk to my friends underwater. The sound was muffled and garbled because it was sound traveling through a liquid. Much the same thing happens to the voice we hear in our head. It is sound vibrating through the solid/liquid of the brain. It is distorted sound. One of the reasons DJs wear headphones is so that they can hear themselves just as their listeners do. They can then fine tune their voice.
I remember the first time I heard myself on a tape recorder. I was shocked; I was stunned. My voice sounded tinny and high in pitch (pitch is the highness or lowness of sound). I was sure that it was a poor recording, that the equipment was cheap. What is interesting is that all of my friends’ voices sounded correct on the recording which I never questioned. Even inexpensive recording equipment however tells more truth than what your inner ear is saying.
Now let’s take that voice on your answering machine one step further. The sound you hear on your voicemail is your vocal image. When you meet someone, 37% of the image you project is the sound of your speaking voice. 55% is your visual image which is your appearance and only 8% your content, that which you say. When you talk to someone on the telephone where there is no visual, those percentages change dramatically. How many times have you formed a mental picture of someone over the phone and then were surprised upon meeting that person? I can’t tell you how many women have phoned me who I thought were children or preteens. I’ve also received phone calls in which I thought I was speaking to a woman when indeed it turned out to be a man. What does your vocal image say about you?
When I was in graduate school studying music composition, my singing professor told me that the pitch of my speaking voice was too high. She played a note on the piano, explaining that that was where my habitual voice was. She then proceeded to play a note 4 whole steps lower, telling that the lower note was where my optimum voice was. From that moment on, I spoke with the lower, richer, warmer voice.
After graduate school I interviewed for a position with G. Schirmer in New York City. I had no idea that my voice would get me the job I wanted. It wasn’t my education; it wasn’t my experience; it wasn’t that I knew someone in the business (I didn’t). What got me that position was that I sounded more mature than I was. I sounded like I knew what I was talking about.
There are some wonderful voices out there but until you have good voice training, you will never know just how wonderful your voice may be.