Speak softly Unto Power: What's That You Say?
Generally speaking, I like the 'well-being' industry, be it frolicking with dolphins, being smeared in sea-weed, or having my knees wrapped in mango rinds - all harmless if done by consenting adults of sound mind. Those, however, purporting to help one harness the 'voice', twitch my annanae. If you have ever spent time with children, Ethel Merman and/or any professional opera-singer, you will have noticed that these groups of people have, naturally, or with training, mastered the skilled art of voice control. Often, they (loudly) share the results with anyone who will listen or unable to run away. Open any life-style magazine and you are urged to do all manner of things with your voice - 'find' it, 'throw it' 'raise' it, and discover the 'inner' variety. It is noticeable, however, that few offers exist to 'hear the voices', hinting at mental instability (which, I am sure, will not be overlooked by the consumer industry forever, although raising a fee from them will be a challenge).
The 'voice' has been of interest to authors, muses and artists down the years. A memorable, take on the theme was an episode from a recent Dr Who series (D Tennant's tenure). The character's words, not voice per se, were spoken by the episode's alien, rendering him mute, yet aware of his plight. As modern gothic horror goes, it was one of the finest thrillers- - your words spoken by another- an evil advocate. Jane Horrock's Little Voice, conveyed exploitation and pathos. The current wave of focus on speech difficulties provided by The King's Speech touchingly conveys the voice's power - actual and symbolic. As Europe teeters on the brink of war, the imperative of regal leadership required verbal confidence at this crucial time. By combating his weakness, the King's conquest mirrored the ultimate battle triumph. A common feature of those with second-language skills is that their voice 'changes' its register and tone-it is almost impossible to speak Italian, for example, either slowly or with a sad refrain and this naturally places the voice in the upper, lighter scale of volume.
Voice-coaches are commonly part of the coterie of those in public office, everybody has to have one, like personal trainers. Mrs Thatcher was memorably 'coached' to tone it down a notch or two. Teachers (if trained properly), are aware of the positive effect of whispering to a few chosen pupils within a boisterous group- the usual result of which is that the wider class tend to drop their voices, focus attention (no need for megaphones or stun-guns, which is a shame). A recent survey of CEOs reveals how the use of voice in corporations correlates to the effective performance of such. Put simply - those in power have no need to shout. Why? Because, be you king, dictator or ruler, or head of a company, you will be listened to due to the very simple reason that you hold life/testicles/livelihoods within your palm (select which one according to appropriate setting). High-volume voices thus, indicate a desperate clamouring to be heard. This, alone, has the reverse-impact, the more you yell, the less likely you are to be listened to.
…That, alone, should be sufficient to raise the octave a notch or two, irrespective of gender- although not too high, please, if you want to succeed!
Feature contributed by julia moore on July 5, 2011 at 8:42 pm.