Learning to Love Your Voice

Long ago, do you remember when you first heard your own voice?  Maybe it was a tape recording, or on a DVD, or a video, but most of us will remember that day. Do you know why?  The answer is because that was the day we decided we despised the way we sounded.  Strangely enough, everyone else we heard that day sounded just fine; just not us.  When it comes to embracing the way we actually sound, we were, and for most of us, still are, our own worst enemy. Here’s a bulletin:  

Nobody likes the way his or her own voice sounds!

Should that give you comfort?  Perhaps, because you’re certainly not alone, but that’s not good enough.  We need to do something about these negative thoughts once and for all, and I’m ready to give it a try.

I remember the first time I heard my voice.  It was in a school play and the director had us all together in the choir room to listen to our performance. I was merrily listening along until my voice showed itself off.  In a word, I was mortified.  Everyone else sounded so, well, normal, and then there was my poor excuse for a voice. It was raspy, and it was nasally inserting itself into the performance like an unwelcomed house guest.  I couldn’t understand how I didn’t know my voice was so different from all my other classmates, and for that matter, everyone else in the world.  Why didn’t anyone tell me that the noise coming out of my mouth was so odd, and such a poor excuse for a voice?!

There was not one, but two reasons for my classmates’ silence.  First of all, no one cared. Second of all,  everyone was way too consumed with the shock and horror of hearing their own voice.  If you want proof that no one but you really cares, think about the dozens of times after that first unpleasant experience when you mentioned how bad your voice sounded, and heard, “What are you talking about?  Your voice sounds fine… it’s my voice that’s a trainwreck!”  I think it’s safe to say we can agree on a couple of things: 

  1. No one seems to like the sound of his or her voice.
  2. We couldn’t be more wrong in how we think about and speak about our one and only, poor, defenseless voices!

Part of the problem is coming from the fact that what we hear internally is a different sound than what we hear when it’s played back to us from another source.  This creates confusion, and what we’re calling, “a poor excuse for a voice,” is actually just a different voice than what we expected.  

The second part of the problem is the mistake we make when we confuse “different” with “inferior.”  Yes; I’m actually now convinced my voice really is raspier than most.  Coaching over fifty basketball and soccer teams, and close to 40 years as a professional speaker, will do that to a voice.  But it’s my unique raspy voice, and now, I kind of like it.  And yes, in fact, my voice does have a rather unusual nasal quality to it, but it’s my unique nasal voice, and again, I kind of like it. 

Besides, what exactly is the alternative?  Nothing.  You can embrace that one and only voice of yours, or you can complain about it.  Your voice won’t care, and other than becoming a bit more timid, your voice won’t change.  Instead, why not truly go all in, and embrace it?  Start by reminding yourself that no one can do a better imitation of your voice than you!

I already know your voice is great because there’s no other voice like it.  If you just stop, and have a little more faith in that voice of yours, your voice will reward you with a more confident tone.  If you truly believe in your voice, it will pay you back with more energy, bounce where it’s supposed to, slow down and speed up where it’s supposed to, and drop where it’s supposed to.  I can promise you that it will be just perfect because it’s your very own, and that’s the way it’s supposed to sound.  Embrace it and don’t question it again.   Tell that internal voice of yours that keeps whining about that external voice that there’s a new sheriff in town. We’re not playing that, “I don’t like my voice” game anymore.  Like lovely music, you’re now going to own whatever sound you’re making, and don’t question it, or try to change it. Your voice is making one of the most beautiful sounds you’ll ever hear:  It’s the sound of authenticity. 

Related: The Power of Podcasting