Recently I met a person who had such a strident voice that it actually hurt my ears whenever the person spoke! Whether in a social or professional setting this is not good for anyone. My sense is that this person was unaware of how she sounded, as most of us are. The problem is that it was so harsh it was painful to listen to and I found myself dreading hearing it again. So what can be done, you ask?
Having coached clients since 1994, this is not the first time I’ve come across this communication concern. The difference is that at least my clients had some insight into how they sounded and were motivated to sound their best. Strident or harsh voices may be the result of a number of factors but here are some pointers to get started in the right direction:
1. Try recording yourself on your phone or tablet to form an initial impression of your voice.
2. Share the same recording with a trusted friend, colleague or family member to seek their reaction.
3. If you have any concerns that your voice may sound too strong, overbearing, or harsh, it’s best to be proactive and consider consulting your physician as a first step to rule out potential physical etiology.
4. Based on what you learn in the previous step, consider asking for a referral to a speech/language pathologist, voice coach or communication specialist.
5. While you’re waiting to consult with any one of these professionals, look at your own vocal habits and be sure you’re: receiving sufficient daily hydration, breathing efficiently from your mid-section (vs. your chest), practicing healthy use of your voice by not shouting, resting after any extended use, and consistently warming up your voice prior to speaking.
Although having a harsh/strident voice may signal “game over” for some, don’t let that be the case for you. Take action right now and speak with the vocal quality you desire—it can definitely be done! You’re welcome to call or e-mail with any questions you may have. Sounding your best is an achievable career goal.