I spent a hell of a lot of time on the phone. I was publicising major events, calling journalists all day and pitching stories about my clients. I could make 30 calls in a day if I was working on a large scale publicity campaign.
But I began to lose my voice and was worried I’d lose my livelihood with it.
Talking became a huge effort and was leaving me breathless. I only had a few good hours of voice in me a day and began to ration it. I talked less socially. Actually, I socialised less. I told my kids I couldn’t argue with them because it would use too much voice (no, it didn’t make them more obedient!). And began to think I probably only had a few years left of being able to work with my voice. Not a great prognosis for a journalist-turned-publicist.
Someone suggested I see a speech therapist. I honestly didn’t imagine for a second that a therapist would really solve my voice loss. But maybe she could buy me some time.
The good news is she was onto it pretty fast. She told me I was using an unusually deep voice and very little of my overall range. I was pitching my voice so low I was wearing out my vocal chords.
She asked me why I was using a deep voice. I didn’t really know why I’d started. But no, I hadn’t always spoken like this. I’d presented TV and radio programs and never had problems with my voice before.
The therapist trained me to speak again using a great range. She animated my voice and the vocal chords were restored. I could breathe more easily. I could call media all day and yell at my kids as much as I wanted.
But I still wondered why this had happened. After a few appointments, it occurred to me how it began. I’d read a newspaper article saying using a deeper voice sounded more authoritative. That had sounded appealing. I would stop sounding like a bright, sparky publicist. I wanted to sound serious. I was embarrassed when I realised I’d done this to myself and ‘fessed up to the therapist. She wasn’t surprised.
These days I specialise in voice of authority for business owners. But it’s not about vocal range, it’s about range of industry commentary, narratives and opinions. I’m bringing the bold private thinking of business owners into public view, in service to their business, clients and industry.
The principles are the same. Yes we want to be taken seriously but that shouldn’t mean stripping away our unique animation, hiding who we are or worse, being something we’re not. It means finding more bandwidth of self to work with. If we dig deeper around who we really are and what we really think, we can bring that into service to business.
When I meet people face to face these days, they say I sound a lot younger on the phone. I can live with their surprise at my age. I’m naturally positive, curious and creative. My voice is a perfect fit at home and in business.
If you’d like to join me for a morning and learn more about to develop your authoritative public profile, please check out these upcoming events in Sydney and Melbourne. (I promise you’ll hear me speak!).