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Vocal Tone / Resonance – Exercises & Tips

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When we use our voice we use our ears and our senses to judge if the vocal tone is not clear or if the volume is off. In other words, we want to be sure that everything is coming out right.


We use our eyes too. We use them to check facial expressions and reactions to know if we are being understood. We want to be sure that the information we are giving out or the emotions we are feeling are being felt the way we want them to be.

A term public speakers and singers are very familiar with is “vocal resonance”. Vocal resonance is the richness and consistent smoothness the listener hears when we speak or sing. It is what gives us the tone, allows us to be expressive (not monotone or bland), stops us from flipping between having good or bad voice days and is needed for people to understand us.

But what happens when we cannot gauge our vocal tone? What happens when the expressions from people, Mr. Enthusiasm or the ultimate poker face, is not telling you what they are really thinking and feeling? The answer is simple. We learn to understand our voice and delivery of our message. Vocal resonance, like most voice skills are learned skills. If you have the right message, delivered in the right way, your listeners will understand and respond to you. It is important for us to make it easier for people to interact with us.


Everyone can have a resonant and confident sounding voice. But, things can stand in the way. One of those things is tension. Not the tension we feel when we get stage fright or move out of our comfort zone, we all know about that. I mean the type of tension that goes unnoticed. Tension is another way of saying “restricting”. There are things that restrict the tone and ability to convey our message; with undetected tension being one of the most common.

We may not have learned how to sense the resonant tone of our voice or monitor our delivery from the listener’s perspective yet BUT there is something we can all do right now to find out if we have any underlying, hard to detect, tension that is interfering with the tone, power, presentation and ease of our voice.

Here are two exercises and tips. What I want you to do is check in with your tongue. Yes, you read that right …. I said the tongue!


· EXERCISE #1: Think about where your tongue is positioned. The natural place for the tongue is relaxed, lying at the bottom on the mouth. The sides of the tongue should touch your back/bottom teeth. The tip of it is behind the bottom teeth and lip. Vocal tone and use will be restricted if that is not happening. If there is underlying tension, the tongue will be pressed to the roof of the mouth. If you look at the front of your tongue you may even see grooves/ridges from where the tension caused you to push your tongue into your teeth.

Try exercise #2 to get rid of the tension that makes your voice sound less than ideal and makes it hard for the listener to understand you.

· EXERCISE #2: Lie on a carpeted floor or yoga mat. Breathe in and out a few times. Pay attention to how the air moves in and out as you inhale and exhale. Next, I want you to exhale. Hold your breath out for 3 seconds; then relax. Feel the breath/inhale. The inhale happens automatically. When you breathe this way, your voice will begin to relax. Repeat this exercise as much as needed to get a good idea of how your breathing should feel. Do it as often as you need such as at the beginning or end of the day, before an important presentation/show or any time your voice feels off or strained. Your voice will have better vocal tone, power and longevity.

People often mistake manners/cordiality and friendliness for agreement. People may also think that because someone is quiet and unresponsive that they disagree with them. Eyes can be deceiving. There are many outgoing and enthusiastic people who add great energy to a room but when the meeting/show is over; you never hear from them again. That is because they were telling you what there personality is like; not what they were thinking. The same is true when you get a cold room filled with people who do not respond. You may mistakenly believe they did not understand you or that they are dis-interested. That may not necessarily be true. They may be introverted, shy or simply tired from a long day.

Working for myself since 2004, I have trained every industry imaginable. My clients are the Ontario Government including the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, banks, pharmaceuticals, technology and services based organizations such as Covenant House.  I have trained sales teams, technology teams, trained the company trainers, worked with senior executives and their staff, and human resources.

The one thing all of these organizations pride themselves in is the calibre of people they hire. They always express a need for leaders. Leaders solve problems and maximize their resources. A leader can be anyone from the most entry level position all the way up to the executive office. If you can interact with others as a leader, communicate your education and experience with an influential and confident delivery, there is no vision you have for yourself that cannot be achieved. The opportunities are there. The rest is up to you!

I hope this information serves you. I hope you have fun with it. Have a great day!

Donna Flynn

Professional Assessment - Personalized Techniques & Program


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