Let’s play a word association game. What images first come to mind when you picture a musical instrument?
Perhaps you imagine a magnificent baby grand piano performing a dramatic classical piece by Mozart or Beethoven.
On the opposite extreme, you might see someone shredding a wicked cool solo on a Fender guitar or belting out showing tunes with a blaring trumpet.
One image that likely did not pop up would be a singer. The human voice is an instrument like any other, although we rarely think of it that way. It’s time to change our tune.
During this year’s Disability Awareness Day, Debra Anderson, a vocal confidence coach, argued that the voice is our most powerful communication tool. Unfortunately, too many people take their voice for granted.
The voice, like any other instrument, requires practice. Those who use their voice intentionally can deliver powerful, passionate addresses that can compel an audience to act. Others find their voice growing quiet, losing volume, and becoming packed with filler words.
The finest musicians in the world practice their instrument for hours each day. If the voice is an instrument, we must use it intentionally on a daily basis just like a musician.
Practicing using one’s voice matters because effective delivery matters. Even the most important message can lose people’s attention if it is told in a boring or shy tone.
Everyone has sat through a dull meeting where someone drones on using overly academic jargon and stale talking points. Is that how you want to sound when advocating for a cause you care deeply about? The answer is probably not.
Next time you deliver a speech, take a moment to think not just what you are about to say, but also how you intend to say it.
Will you use dramatic hand gestures or let your arms flop like limp noodles?
Will you command your audience’s attention or shy away from the spotlight?
Will allow your voice to soar or barely let your tone rise above a whisper?
“Be proud of who you are,” Anderson says. “Be confident in what you are saying. You have worked too hard not to be proud of what you do.”
Practice using your voice this week and see what happens. What comes out might just surprise you.