Etiquette Boss: Giving voice

Verbal Communication

Etiquette is much more than good manners. It is about being comfortable in one’s skin and helping others to feel the same. If we do not feel our best, we do not act our best.

Today, I would like to focus on our voice, and the role it plays in etiquette. Verbal communication is as important as non-verbal communication. What we say is important, but a clear, vibrant voice will get us more attention than a weak, shaky voice.

As we grow older, our voices change as our organs succumb to the lack of exercise and the  pull of gravity. Most of us will not undergo surgical voice lifts, in which the surgeon injects the vocal chords with collagen or fat to help the vocal chords vibrate better, and thus provide a stronger sound.

Speech therapists tell us that a simple aid to voice health is to drink more water, and thereby keep the vocal folds hydrated. Hum or sing in the shower, which is called “gymnastics for the voice.” What you do not use, you lose.

Improve your posture and improve your voice. In etiquette classes of yesteryear, students walked with books on their heads to improve posture. Walking, sitting and standing without slouching will improve your voice.

Try reading a few lines from your newspaper with your chin in an elevated position. Stop and read that same paragraph with your head straight (bring the paper up, instead of looking down to read), and finally, look down to read the same paragraph. You will be convinced that posture affects your sound whether you are speaking or reading.

I always advise speakers who have written material to bring the paper up, instead of looking down to read. The voice sounds stronger and projects much better to the listener. Pay attention to your head position when speaking. If your chin is down, your voice is not projecting at its best. Lift that chin, and hear the difference.

Beauty Tips –  A Beautiful Neck

Build up your neck muscles by doing this exercise while watching television. Look upward to the ceiling. Interlace fingers of both hands behind the head. Press your head backward into your hands while at the same time using your hands to push your head forward. Count to 10 and release.

Go slowly, starting with three reps and increasing as your strength in this area builds. However, decrease as you notice improvement, and maintain with three to five reps.

Phillipa Morrish is the president of Etiquette Training International.

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