I Hate My Voice! — Fear of Speaking
At least once a week one of my trainees tells me “I hate my voice.” This is usually followed by a solemn declaration that somehow all recording voices distort his or her voice in an unflattering matter.
What’s going on here?
Perhaps you have noticed when you hear your own voice on a voicemail or on a home video recording that it doesn’t sound like you at all. Actually, it does sound like you, just not the you that you are used to listening to.
All of us hear our own voice in a distorted manner, only it’s not because we have big or small egos. We hear a distorted voice because we are hearing the sound distorted from the bones in our head. We hear our voices on the inside and the outside. The structure of our skulls messes with our own sound and muffles it in a way that it doesn’t do for someone simply hearing us through their ears from across the room (that’s not exactly using scientific lingo, but that is the science behind the theory)
Often during my training’s when I play back a video recording of one of my students, he or she reacts with “that’s not how I really sound.” But he or she notices that when their colleagues are videotaped, the sound they hear when the recording is played back is exactly the same as when the colleague was giving the speech live. The student realizes that there is noting wrong with the recording device.
When people tell me they hate their voice, they aren’t lying. But the real problem for most people is that they are just unfamiliar with their voice and that when they hear their voices for the first time the way other people do, the difference in perception is so great that it is shocking.
It is this disconnect that they don’t like, not the actual quality of their voices that they abhor.
Very few people have voices so mellifluous that they can make a million dollars a year doing voiceovers for TV commercials. The good news is that you don’t have to have a voice like that to be an excellent communicator.
Barbara Walters has a speech impediment, but she makes more than $18 million a year, in part, with her voice. Rudy Giuliani has a lisp, yet he is paid more than $100,000 for an hour’s worth of work to give a speech. John McCain has a sibilant “s” problem, yet he is a political and media darling.
If you think your voice is holding you back, chances are you are just obsessing over a nonexistent or minor problem.
GET OVER IT!
Your voice isn’t that bad. If you speak with passion and excitement and you have an interesting message, chances are your voice won’t prevent you from being a powerful communicator.