There are a number of factors that effect the way your voice sounds:
- Physical – the size and shape of your mouth, nasal passages, vocal chords, etc.
- Health – your general well-being and the tone of your muscles.
- Temperament and Personality – the way you respond to things going on around you.
- Environment – both physical and social.
- Youthful habits – your vocal behaviour as you were growing up.
Most of these factors can be altered or retrained to improve the quality of voice when you speak.
Here are some basic concepts to improve and develop your voice:
You used your voice freely when you were a child. As you developed “mature” speech, your vocal habits became ruts. You need to go back and revive the freedom in using you voice, exercising your imagination and experimenting:
- Imitate animals – moo, crow, quack, meow, bark, etc.
- Imitate musical sounds – a bell, a drum, a trumpet
- Get your body into it – pretend you are cheering on your favourite team, cheer, encourage, groan.
- Practice emotion – say good morning as many ways as you can – cheerful, perfunctory, angry, grumpy, etc.
Focus on meaning
Find some passages to read aloud. Before you start, read the passage to yourself and analyze the meaning. Read the passage aloud and try and convey that meaning with your voice: stress the basic thought; the development of the thought; the balance of ideas; any contrasts; etc.
Use your emotions
The physical state which accompanies emotion will help you vocalize. As you read a passage aloud, try and recall a situation where you have had similar feelings.
Practice vocal mechanics
Musicians practice the basics regularly. A pianist has a range of exercises to develop their dexterity, speed, sensitivity. A good speaking voice should also be developed with exercises.
Here is a brief idea of the types of exercises that will improve your voice:
- Say the OO sound as low-pitched as you can. Slide smoothly up to a higher pitch (think a musical octave) and slide back down to the original pitch.
- Say the OO sound for a long as you can. Repeat on different pitches. Do the same for the sounds AH, OH and EE.
- Say the OO sound starting as quietly as you can. Gradually increase the volume, then let the sound get quiet again. Do the same for the sounds AH, OH and EE.
An Internet search on “vocal exercises for speaking” will give you many more exercises from which to choose.
Speakers in the past have worked to improve their voices. It takes time, patience, knowledge, and practice.