How is it that a blind person can tell if you are in a good or bad mood, simply by your use of words?
You might say “Oh, I’m fine”, when you are anything but. You might even say “Never been better” when things have never felt worse.
The key is “blind people don’t hear better – they just listen more”(1).
Do you know the English comedian/actor Peter Serofinowicz? I’ve been a fan for years. His latest work exposes how we hear and interpret words. He has taken actual Donald Trump speeches and replaced Trump’s voice with his own character version ‘Sassy Trump’, ‘Cockney Trump’. Same words, different tone, different meaning, different interpretation.
So how do your feelings and emotions become sound and why are they heard through your words?
First of all, emotions are an expression of ‘who’ you are and what you are feeling and experiencing. They also create a physical change in you. We all know what it’s like when we feel anxious or stressed or worried or ecstatic with joy. It impacts our stomach, our heart, our ability to produce saliva. It creates a physical change in us.
The vocal chords are no different.
Stress tenses the vocal chords, meaning we have to force our words out and they sound strained.
Anxiety can change your breathing so that the pace and tempo of your words changes.
Happiness allows you breathe deeper and open up the larynx producing steady, full tones.
In an ‘audio’ only medium such as radio, these emotional clues are massively important. They allow your listener ‘see’ how you feel. You can’t hide it.
That’s not all !
If you are feeling guilty about something, your voice pitches higher “I didn’t DO it”.
Confidence produces a lower tone, “I KNOW who did it”.
Ever wonder why radio voice over guys have deep voices and VO women have soft and warm voices? Now you know! It’s authority. “Believe us, we know what we’re saying”.
If you hop on a plane for a ten hour flight and the captain addresses the cabin in a high pitch squeaky voice…suddenly you’re wondering about who is flying the damn thing!
If Mister deep voice comes on the mic though and smoothly tells you about the flight path and journey ahead, you will relax more.
Voice, tones, pace and delivery.
Your voice is waaaaay more than just the words you say. When you concentrate on your delivery you will realise how vital it is in delivering your message.
Even how NO words impact an emotion: the ‘pause’. One of the most effective tools we have at our disposal.
Your voice travels from your larynx to the part of your brain that picks up emotional states. It’s like a service station on a motorway when you’re low on petrol. Once the electrical current passes through the ‘emotional’ brain, it is processed and sent back to your mouth to be thrust at the world!!
Then the listener processes the pace, tone, pitch and delivery and can instantly recognise your emotion. Important if you’re lying on air or faking it…your words say one thing, but your emotion (easily spotted) says another.
“That guy is so fake on air”.
I wonder why….?
You don’t need to hear better. You just need to listen more.
  1. “The Human Voice” – Anne Karpf