On NPR’s August 14th Science Friday show, Ira Flatow interviewed Casey Klofstad and me about whether a man or woman with a lower pitched voice is more likely to be elected President. Dr. Klofstad’s latest study http://goo.gl/vk5xLj found that voters prefer leaders with lower-pitched voices because they are perceived as stronger, having greater physical prowess, more competent, and having greater integrity. I agree that a lower pitch is much more liked by audiences, but that the pitch must have some variability, because a lower-pitched voice with little variability can sound monotonous and boring as evidenced by Mitt Romney’s voice http://goo.gl/gG10LB.
In working with voice clients, I find that speakers often try to lower their pitch by speaking at the bottom of their pitch range and putting too much muscle strain into producing sound, which can cause the voice to fatigue and not project well. When our bodies and throats are relaxed and we use breath from below, we can be nearer the lower end of our two octave pitch range without excessive effort. As we know, when we become tense, use shallow breathing and raise our shoulders to help project our voices, our throat tightens, our pitch rises, and our voice often becomes shrill and nasal. As speakers, our goal should be to use a relaxed voice and vary our pitch several notes up and down as we speak so that our pitch is lower, our voice has more intonation, and sounds more natural.
Leave a voice memo on your smart phone and listen to it. If your pitch is high, strained or shrill, try to breathe from your lower rib cage and relax your throat and jaw so that your sound is perceived as lower and more resonant. You are likely to be perceived as more competent in the office.
Contact Voicetrainer LLC 202-580-6646 if you are interested in maximizing your impact through pitch and vocal variety.