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The 3 Factors That Influence the Sound of Your Speaking Voice

Nancy Daniels, Voice Coach

hrough my many years in the voice business, I have learned more from my clients than any book or theory on voice. What has been extremely fascinating is what I have discovered as to why we sound the way we sound.

It didn't start out as study, rather it is the years I spent listening to my clients and asking them one specific question, "Do you sound like your mom or your dad?" Just like fingerprints, voices are very individual: no two are exactly alike but they can be very similar.

There are three factors that affect why you sound the way you do:

1. Genetics;
2. Environment; and,
3. Upbringing

While you obviously have no control over genetics, you actually do have quite a bit of control over the other two factors once your vocal folds have matured. The shaping of your voice occurs during your childhood and teenage years where environment and upbringing play a huge role in determining exactly how you will sound.

Every voice is distinguished by a particular timbre just as all musical instruments are. In relation to the voice, timbre is the texture of your instrument molded by a combination of qualities that differentiates one voice from another of the same pitch and volume. While genetics play a tremendous role in your actual instrument, your relationship with your parents and where you live further define your voice.

If, for example, you had a good relationship with your same-sex parent, there is every likehood that, as an adult, you will sound similar to that parent. If you were raised in one of the southern states, you will sound similar with a southern drawl. Were you born and raised in Brooklyn with a loving same-sex parent, again you will sound similar to that parent except you will not have a southern drawl. Instead you will probably talk though your nose.

The qualifier in these scenarios is the relationship you had with your parents in your early formative years, primarily with that of your same-sex parent. We imitate our loved ones growing up. If the relationship was loving and nurturing, then the chances are very good that you will sound similar to your same-sex parent, but not exact.

This influence is not just limited to your parents. Often same-sex siblings, given a good relationship with each other, will sound similar as well.

While you may or may not like sounding similar to your mother or father, the good news is that you are not limited to that voice forever. Genetics have certainly played a role in how you sound but you have the ability to greatly improve your speaking voice by taking a voice improvement course. With the right approach, you can discover your ‘real’ voice and no longer sound like your mom or dad.

International Speaker and Voice Specialist, Nancy Daniels, has been involved in voice training since 1977. A graduate of Gettysburg College with a BA in music, she discovered the techniques for improving the sound of the speaking voice while in graduate school at American University in Washington, D.C.

In addition to her guest speaking engagements, Nancy offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice training and public speaking skills throughout the United States and Canada. For those are unable to work with her directly, there is Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on voice training, future workshops, and Voicing It!, visit her Voice Dynamic website.M


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