Our speaking voice naturally conveys information about each of us.  Our voice serves as a primary means by which we project our physical (gender & age), psychological (happy or sad) and social characteristics (confident or reticent) to those with whom we’re communicating.

Although voice is central to a wide range of human experiences, it is difficult to provide a single, useful, all-purpose definition of voice, even though several meanings of this term are in common use. Voice can be defined narrowly as sound produced by vibration of the vocal folds, or broadly as essentially synonymous with speech, or referred to collectively/metaphorically as in the Latin phrase vox populi (“voice of the people”).

The elements of phonation and articulation, pitch and amplitude variations, and temporal patterning all contribute to how a speaker sounds, and broad definitions of voice reflect this fact.

In regard to feminizing your voice, we’ve narrowly defined your voice in terms of:

This month, April, we’re looking at Step 4 in your “Year through the Steps.”  We’re defining voice quality very narrowly – the manner of vibration of your vocal folds.

Our voices can sound breathy (video) or scratchy (video) or just right (video). A breathy voice (when there is no medical reason for it) is often a style of speaking that is very connected to personality (very feminine) or circumstance (speaking softly in a movie theater). What’s happening mechanically is that the vocal folds aren’t completely approximating (completely coming to mid-line) when you speak. Listen to this breathy female voice of an actress who is a voice over artist.

Breathy Female Voice

The airiness you hear in her voice is related to the manner in which she is speaking.

In this next video, listen to a young woman who has a cold (infectious or acute laryngitis) and has a scratchy voice. The sound you hear in her voice is because the vocal folds are not vibrating in a smooth and symmetric fashion.  In a “normal” voice, the vocal folds are entrained to oscillate so that they come together and blow apart again at the exact same millisecond. This oscillating behavior changes when the vocal folds are inflamed due to a upper respiratory infection (URI) and the resulting sound is a hoarse voice.

SICK VOICE

I think she was putting on a sicker voice than maybe she really had.  What do you think?

Normal Vocal Cord Vibration

At this point, you might be asking yourself, “Why is all this important to me?”  Here’s why.

The quality of your voice reveals important information about the state of health of your vocal cords (folds).  If you have specific medical problems such as acid reflux, allergies or chronic sinusitis (to name a few), the voice is often affected.

Are you hoarse after eating?
Is your voice scratchy in the morning?
When your sinuses act up does it affect your voice?

Another important consideration is that training your voice is not without its pitfalls.  Hoarseness, soreness and voice fatigue often DO occur and MUST be treated effectively.  Be aware of how your throat feels and how your voice sounds after you’ve been practicing your voice exercises.

Use this simple rating scale.  Generally, how would you rate the quality of your voice?  Breathy? Weak? Airy? If so, assign a value to it, -10 would be an extremely weak voice. I suspect that very few of you reading this would score yourselves a -10, -9, -8, or -7.

If you’re purposefully using a breathy voice to sound more feminine, are you happy with the sound? Is it functional, meaning does your voice carry in a noisy restaurant? Does a breathy voice really convey the essence of who you are?  Is it really feminine?

I would rate the breathiness of the female sample video above as -1 or -2.

Then consider if your voice is scratchy or hoarse.  I would rate the “sick voice” from the video above about +5 or +6. The hoarseness in her voice definitely draws attention to itself, but it’s not so severe that we can’t understand what she’s saying.  Are you hoarse?  If so, what does that say about you? Tired? Sick? Allergic?

How would you rate your voice over all?

Step 4:  Voice Quality

For the month of April, your goal is to listen carefully to the different qualities of people’s voices according to the above continuum.  Try to separate pitch and resonance, (which we’ll talk about next month) and make some decisions about what you think of their voice quality and what you feel that reveals about them (health, mood, personality).

Can you find a sample of a feminine voice you love that isn’t breathy?  Can you find a sample of a feminine voice that sounds raspy but not irritatingly so?

I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 4. Stay in touch over the month.

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Kathe

Denver, Colorado

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As a success coach, Ali Brown really knows the magic success formula for women! That’s why I decided to repost a recent article of hers.  Even if you’re not an entrepreneur these tips about your personal appearance will help you feel better about yourself.  And as you know, feeling feminine will definitely help you sound feminine and the confidence that results is priceless.

Posted on January 26, 2012 by Ali Brown

Running a business in the new economy means that most of us spend a big chunk of our workdays behind a computer screen. And as many can attest, the longer we work from home, the fuzzier the idea of looking presentable gets. Our definition of making a good impression means we spell check our emails, rather than practice the perfect handshake. But, what happens when we land a big client meeting, or that long-awaited media interview? Below, are a few tips on how to shift seamlessly between work-from-home solo-preneur to real-world, successful business owner. And don’t worry, you don’t have to compromise your authentic self to do it!

Do Right By Your Brand

Your brand is in essence, your point-of-view. The more confident you are expressing your spin on things, the more likely you will make a positive first impression on your ideal clients. Take a few minutes to think about what your brand represents, and how you can embody it best with your dress and overall appearance. This means different things for different people by the way: just think of how a business consultant might dress compared to an edgy hair stylist. Blue highlights could garner praise at a high-end hair show, and rightly so—but it would probably not win over a Fortune 500 client. What would make you feel in integrity with the business you’ve created AND make your target market feel comfortable buying from you?

Young, trendy industries love creative expressions of dress, but even in these scenarios, it doesn’t always mean you have full license to let your “freak flag” fly. The key here is to give an impression that you are successful and confident in your area of expertise, whatever that may be. Do some research on successful people in your field, and keep an eye on the way they present themselves. It’s likely that they’ve taken their brand and their philosophy, and added their own, sophisticated spin on it.

Focus on the Fit

Ask any stylist what their #1 rule is when it comes to dressing to impress, and they will likely agree that it’s all about the FIT of the clothing you wear. Whether your daily uniform is a tank and a cropped pants, or a cardigan and slacks, you can uplevel your appearance by simply becoming a stickler about the way clothes fit, and flatter, your body.

Note that fit has nothing to do with being thin, or hitting the gym until you’re in the best shape of your life. Every person has a particular body shape that will shine in certain styles, and will flop in others. Find out which ones work for you by investing in a book, like that of Clinton Kelly’s (co-host of TLC’s What Not to Wear) Dress Your Best! The Complete Guide to Finding the Style That’s Right for Your Body, or Kendall Farr’s The Pocket Stylist.

Pay Attention to the Details

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the challenge of putting together an outfit, and neglect the finishing touches that truly seal the deal. Here we’re talking about well-groomed hair, makeup and nails. Your hair is one of your most important accessories. It should always look styled, and frizz-free, no matter how conservative or alternative your personal style is. It’s okay to keep things natural and not overdo it on products and makeup, but the goal is to give an overall impression that you are composed and put together—and you care about your appearance.

If you think this tip is only useful for a diva, chew on this… when mental health specialists do an assessment of a new patient, one of the first things they’re required to do is gauge the dress and grooming of their patients. If a patient doesn’t look like they comb their hair or take care of basic grooming, it’s a red flag that they aren’t functioning at 100%. Grooming says a lot about how you handle your world. It shows how well you tend to details, and how invested you are in where you want to go in the world.

Don’t Wait ‘til You’re THERE

Despite what you think, you don’t have to wait until you weigh a certain number, or have a certain amount of money in the bank to start presenting yourself like a successful business owner. Invest in a suit that makes you feel like a million bucks. Get the shoes that make you want to take a presentation by storm. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to do this—focus on wearing pieces that make you feel confident in your skin.

Be Calm

It’s likely that people won’t remember exactly what you were wearing, but they WILL remember how your energy made them feel. No matter how nervous or out-of-your-element you may feel inside, make eye contact and take your time to connect with people you are speaking with. Keep your business cards in a designated place in your purse or satchel, so you don’t have those awkward moments of scrambling through your purse.

If you can step into the world confidently representing your brand, and showing that you care about your business, yourself, and your clients, then you are dressing for success. People will pick up on it, and you’ll find that they’ll be ready and willing to champion you and your business.

© 2012 Ali International, LLC

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

“Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow a profitable business that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com

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The pitch of your feminine voice matters.  A lot.  While it is true that some women do have low-pitched speaking voices (see the Bea Arthur video) and some woman are able to sing quite low (see the “woman with deep voices” video), they still sound like women.

Actress Bea Arthur

Women with deep (“dark”) voices

This month (March) is Step 3—establishing your speaking pitch in a feminine range. Those of you who have been working on your voices already know that the average adult female has a speaking pitch between 200-250 Hz (or G3-B3 on the piano), which is just below “middle C,” or C4.  The average adult male has a speaking pitch about an octave below that (100-150 Hz, centered around C3).

Tools:

You’ll need a frequency tuner.  I often use the Boss TU 80 chromatic tuner.  I like it because it also has a metronome which you’ll need later in your training.  Click HERE to go to their website to learn more.

iPhone and Android apps are also plentiful and easy to use and some are FREE.  Click HERE to learn more about CLEARTUNE.    Click HERE to learn more about TunerTool.  Click HERE to learn more about PitchPerfect.


Another FREE frequency tuner can be downloaded from Seventh String. They also have a FREE metronome.

How to begin:

We’ll be layering your feminine posture (which you’ve been working on for two months now), your respiratory mechanics (from last month, February) and your feminine pitch in the simple exercises in this video.  I strongly urge you to practice with this video at least once a day.  If you’re quite skillful with you voice already, you’ll benefit from a brush-up on both the proprioceptive (felt sense) and metacognitive (mindfulness) strategies you’ve been trained to incorporate when speaking.

Pitch Tuning For Beginners

BONUS VIDEO: I thought you might like this video of a guy (Nick Pitera) singing in a female voice.


Nick Pitera singing male & female parts, “Don’t Stop Believing”

Try singing along with Nick in his female voice.

Step 3:  Your Feminine Pitch

For the month of March, your goal is to use a frequency tuner (of your choosing) and tune your pitch at least ten times every day.  Before you begin, check your posture, connect with the breath (hint: the exercises from last month), then “hit” the A3 pitch for “hee,” then “haa,” then “hoo.”  Check your tuner. Did you hit it?  If so, FANTASTIC!  Do it again. If you didn’t hit the A3, what pitch did you hit?  Did you over shoot or under shoot the target?

I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 3. Stay in touch over the month.

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Kathe

Denver, Colorado

30-Day Crash Course

Fundamentals of Your Feminine Voice

Beyond the Fundamentals 1: the next dimension

Learn more about the 30-Day Crash Course

DOWNLOAD “Beyond the Fundamentals” MP3 program NOW! CLICK ON the link below.

DOWNLOAD “Fundamentals of Your Feminine Voice” MP3 program NOW! CLICK ON the link below.