Optimize Your Speaking Voice
Like the Alan Rickman and Morgan Freeman’s of the world, some people were born with a naturally optimized and resonant voice. That when they speak they command everyone’s attention just like that. Speaking is the main form of communication, the main medium to convey one’s thought. Now we all can talk and communicate but effective speaking does take skill. A person’s voice also reveals much about a person’s history and character. For voice actors, effective speaking takes on a different meaning. That’s where the acting skills come in as they wear the hat of the brand or the character for the audience. But the science behind the voice is the same. A voice actor’s voice is his bread and butter. It is his trade and how he makes a living. No voice, no work. And it is not just a voice we are talking about – it has to be a powerful one, one that consumers will listen to and remember.
Exercise Your Voice
Your voice is most resonant in the morning, when you have let your voice rest for about 8 to 10 hours. Recording for a project is best done after these hours of rest.
Kate Peters said in the article Speak Up! A Guide To Voice Protection that resonance is the reverberation or repetition of sound in the environment in which it was created. When someone speaks, resonance is created in the body as well as in the surrounding area. The two extremes of resonance are “head voice,” which is where high sounds resonate, and “chest voice,” which is where low sounds resonate.
The human voice makes sounds that can also resonate in the front of the face or what is called mask. Mask resonance is a combination of nasal and mouth resonance. A combination of mouth and nose resonance is what we are looking for. You do not want to sound too nasal. It does require some practice and the recommendation is to exercise 20 minutes a day.
- Stand in front of a mirror and say “mmmmmmmm”. You should feel the vibrating sensation in front of your face. Do this five times and again the goal is to develops mask resonance, which creates a clean and vibrant sound. This is achieved by creating a clean approximation of the cords and a resonance that will sound great and project easily. After that, you can then progress to saying “Mmmmmmm. How are you today?”
- “Ney, ney,ney, ney, ney, ney, ney.” Say this loudly without yelling. Do this up and down your vocal range for more mask resonance training.
The basics of a strong and healthy voice is proper breathing. Proper breathing also helps calm the speaker, helps boost confidence and control nervous energy that affects voice projection. Breathe deeply and then exhale with a hissing sound. Repeat ten times – this is also a good warm up before a recording session, plus, it helps you focus on the work ahead of you.
When you are able to produce a vibrantly resonant sound and have good breathing technique command, then you have a strong vocal physique. This is when a person has a powerful voice without speaking louder. Speaking loudly is NOT representative of a powerful voice.
Vocal Flexibility and Coordination
Consistency is the key when it comes to voice flexibility and coordination so the exercise is to keep these consistent in your voice. Some exercises for this are:
- Progressively change the pitch of a vowel up and down a musical scale. For example a siren sound from ‘Oooooo’ and sliding up and down your vocal range several times. And then the ‘Eeeee’ sound up and down your vocal range.
- You can also lift your volume a bit and combine mask resonance exercise with vocal flexibility and coordination and say “mmmmmmmmmmmmy name is…” up and down your vocal range.
Isolate voice muscles for articulation
Tongue twisters are very good exercises to achieve this. For a full workout, repeat a tongue twister you know several times as fast as you can go so you keep them clear. Going too fast and coming out jumbled is not the proper way.
End with five big deep breaths to cool down. The list is not exhaustive, there are many more simple and easy exercises you can do and you probably already know some. The point is, be reminded of the benefits and keep at it for better voice sound.
It doesn’t matter if you are a pro. It helps to be in touch with the basics and to keep exercising your voice. It is important not to lose that quality that got you started off in your career.