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  • 25 Mar, 2023
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Did you know there are 7 aspects of voice development?

Did you know there are 7 aspects of voice development?

If you think of voice and speech development like the motor of a car, each part has its own job to do but nothing can happen if all the parts don’t work together. It’s the same sort of thing when you are working on your voice and speech, this includes children. The first 4 aspects must go in this particular order, then the last 3 aspects you choose depending on the goal you want to achieve.

The first part of every speech lesson is relaxing.  Relaxation in terms of speech doesn’t mean ready to fall asleep, it is simply adjusting small parts of our body to ensure we can breathe properly and produce the best speaking voice we can.  If there is undue tension in any muscles that are used for breathing or voice production then the speech produced will have some fault, for example, a hard tone or harsh breathing.  The outcome of the speech produced will not be as effective, or as clear, as it could be.

If we are too tense we cannot think clearly, and what we want to say may come out all jumbled and senseless.  Being tense means we cannot control our voice and make it sound the way we want. This can be very detrimental, especially if we are going to speak in public, or convince someone about something.  

Next up is posture. Poor posture can be one of the underlying reasons for poor quality of speech because it can really affect voice and breathing, which are two elements that are crucial for clear speech.  If our posture is incorrect our lungs cannot expand properly, we can’t breathe properly and we can’t produce clear speech.  Poor posture can also cause undue tension in an area like your throat, which can affect the quality of your voice.

Before you continue with any other speech exercises, start with a few postural exercises. These are very simple exercises that you should encourage daily, at the start of every ‘clear speech’ lesson or when you are warming up for public speaking.

#3 is breathing. We breathe, really, without giving it much thought.  We involuntarily use some muscles that cause us to breathe without our deliberate control.  However, breath is the ‘motor power’ of the voice and it needs to be a steady, controlled flow. 

Good breath control is only achieved by developing the accepted, correct* method of breathing, which is the basis of good, effective voice production.  Faulty methods lead to tension in various muscles, lack of resonance and weak projection.

If we want to use our voices effectively, we need to learn how to control our breathing for our benefit.  We need to know the correct process of breathing.

The 4th step in the process is resonance. This is where you can develop your voice to sound really cool. A voice that people love listening to. I was going to say like a radio announcer, but these days, some announcer’s voices are just horrible to listen to.

The general function of the resonators is to produce tone. 

The three main resonators are:

  1. The back of your throat (pharynx-pharyngial resonance).
  2. The hollows of your nose and cheeks (nasal resonance).
  3. The mouth (oral cavity-oral resonance).

Less important resonators are the upper cavity of the chest, the larynx, and the forehead. Learning exercises to develop the resonating cavities is super important if sounding good is your goal. And why not? Listening is a skill that has become a victim of the tech era and developing anything to get people to focus on you could be that one thing that helps you to stand out in the crowd.

#5 There are 26 letters in the English alphabet but 44 sounds in NZ English. Articulation is taking those 20 vowel and 24 consonant sounds and combining them into words. Once the sound is resonated, it is then formed into words (which are made up of vowels and consonants). 

Words are formed by the articulative organs – teeth, tongue, lips, hard and soft palate (roof of mouth and back of throat).  Each sound is produced by a definite position of one or other articulative organs, and if the shaping is not made properly, the sound produced will be inaccurate.  We need to exercise our organs of articulation so we can produce a clear, clean, correct sound when we speak.

#6 Have you ever listened to a speaker and thought “Boring!”  Chances are they only used one tone of voice without changing volume, pitch, pace or emphasising words, so that their speech was monotonous and boring.  Learning how to modulate your voice,  how to make your voice sound exciting when you are speaking aloud for example. This will give you great confidence when it comes to presentations or public speaking. 

#7 Projecting your voice forward takes a lot of practise but is really necessary if you want your audience to hear you clearly and it is a very valuable tool.  Of course, firstly make sure your neck and shoulder muscles are completely relaxed – choose two or three exercises from the relaxation chapter.