Brooke Le Poer Trench, Allure magazine
Expert advice on improving your voice.
An Interview With Patsy Rodenburg
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Rodenburg has been the director of voice at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama for 26 years. She has worked with Nicole Kidman, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman, and more. Her website is patsyrodenburg.com.
You have more control over how you sound than you might think-and your voice has a big impact on the way people perceive you.
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Limber up. As with any muscle, you need to warm up your voice to sound calm and clear. If you're about to make a speech or go into an important meeting, find a private spot and do 30 seconds of gentle humming, and speak a few sentences out loud.
Relax already. When women get stressed, our bodies tense, our breath quickens, and our voices go up, which can make us sound weak or shrill. Relax your shoulders, breathe deeply into your lower stomach area, and lean forward-even if you're seated, this immediately lowers your voice.
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Slow down. Research shows that people switch off within a few seconds if you speak too quickly. Try recording your voice to hear how you sound; you'll know you're talking too fast if you start tuning yourself out. The key to hitting the right pace is to pronounce every syllable and breathe slowly.
Be clear. If people have a hard time understanding you because of an accent, make an effort to articulate the ends of words, which frequently get lost. Slowing down will help with this, too. Keep in mind, though, that truly changing an accent takes a lot of work-the worst thing you can do is try to imitate how others speak. It will only sound false.
Lean forward-even if you're seated, this lowers your voice.