Monday, 26 October 2015

How to Have a Commanding Voice


The other day, just after I had finished talking to her, my student said to me, “You have a funny voice.”

O-kay. No one had ever told me that before. So my voice is funny. Is it ha-ha funny or weird funny? I wondered.

I asked my student, “How is it funny?”

“Well, it goes up and down like this when you talk.” She replied and proceeded to demonstrate how I talked.

Ohhh, I thought. She meant I had a sing-song voice - but really? Do I really? I had never thought that I did and no one else had told me that I did. 
I know that I spoke high in my throat from reading many years ago the book called ‘The Right to Speak’ by Patsy Rodenburg. Apparently, the way we speak is influenced by our parents. I hadn’t realised it before I read the book but my mum actually talk this way as well. The problem with speaking this way is that the vocal sounds we produce stay in our head and throat. It doesn’t get pushed out into the mouth and then outwards into the world. It makes it hard for others to understand our words.

This is a problem especially for teachers who need to command a room full of students. I remember during my high school prac teaching, my supervisor told me that my voice was not loud enough. I needed to project it out so the students can hear me and pay attention. My voice needed to be more commanding. 

So for my next lesson I tried to be more commanding but afterwards I felt really drained and tired. I didn’t feel good about all the shouting that I did. My supervisor told me that I sounded really angry. I told her that I was only trying to make my voice louder like she suggested but it hadn’t felt right. She said there’s a difference between yelling and commanding. Yelling is when you’re using the top of your voice whereas commanding is when you lower it and it starts deep in your stomach. Well I wished she had told me that before! I knew I had sounded like a raving mad person.

Over my teaching years I have been working on projecting my voice so that when I need my students to hear me, I wouldn’t have to scream. I have gotten better and these are some of the things that helped.

1. Before you want to project your voice, take a deep breath. 

2. Open your mouth when you say the words. This will help you to pronounce the words clearly instead of mumbling them. It lets the words out of your mouth.

3. Lower your sound. High pitch sounds tend to originate in the throat. You’d want to originate your sounds from the centre of your stomach.

4. Use your breath to push the words out. That deep breath that you took should launch your words.

5. Push the sounds into your mouth and onto your lips then upwards and outwards in an arc. 

At first, it requires concentration but with practice, the whole process becomes automatic.

When I talk, I still use the top of my throat which probably lead to the sing song effect that my student mentioned. It’s a hard habit of a life time to get out of. At least I can command a small room when I need to. As for commanding an assembly hall or conference room, I’d still need practice and probably voice training!

25 comments:

  1. JazakAllahu khairan for sharing these helpful tips.

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  2. This is a really great tip! I'm starting to post Youtube videos and this will definitely come in handy :D

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    1. People sound more authoritative when they speak lower in pitch.

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  3. OMG! I have to check whether I'm yelling or commanding. Insha Allah with your tips I can command better my little battalion.

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    1. Sometimes it's hard for us to tell but children can hear the difference.

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  4. Very interesting post :-)
    I guess even when we talk to our kids we need to master this technique. I am really concerned about how I will start talking to my son when he enters the "tantrums" phase! I mean I will want him to listen to me but I do not want to look as if I am struggling to shout in a voice higher than his so that he hears me! :-|

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    1. Alhamdulillah my first child was mild mannered so he didn't have that many tandrums and I used the counting technique that I've written about in a previous post. However, when I had my second child, who was more emotionally charged, he threw everything I knew about dealing with tandrums out the window. He's still like this now but what I find is that if I sit with him and hold him until he calms down then we can have a little talk afterwards. One thing not to do is to reason with a child having a tandrum! Good luck when your time comes :) InshaAllah it will all go smoothly.

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  5. Mashaa Allah, I need these tips.

    I'll be starting to have community works and we will have event when we have to teach children, pregnant women, elderly about health, nutrition, and such. These tips will help in shaa Allah.

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  6. I never thought about this - but you're right it is annoying to speak with someone who mumbles. But the poor soul probably has no idea what they sound like! Great tips, I hope to try them iA.

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    1. So true! My teenage son mumbles (What's with teenage boys and mumbling?) and I always tell him to open his mouth to let the words free :)

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  7. I love your honesty in this post. Never thought about it before - but I probably yell more than I use a commanding voice. Although your post is aimed towards school children, this is equally helpful for dealing with children at home. Very useful - going to give this a try, looking forward to see the difference inshaAllah

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    1. Parents do need commanding voices. InshaAllah you'll notice the difference.

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  8. Asalamoalikum Jamila,
    Interesting and in demand tips espec for mommies.
    i have saved the article and reread when needed.
    JazakAllah

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  9. I quite like sing song voices! Makes it interesting. Thanks for the tips though! Think I probably yell more

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  10. It is always interesting when students notice many things about their teachers and even act them out, right? I caught students acting like me when I had just started teaching years ago. I can't imagine how I must have sounded back then; little confidence, small structure and a tiny voice to go with it. I had to go back and review myself.

    Over the years, I have come to love speaking, especially for dawah purposes. So I now have my teaching voice and my chillin voice. But there's always comething new to learn. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Yes students do copy their teachers! Many times I've seen different students standing at my whiteboard 'being the teacher' with their little friends sitting on the mat and acting exactly as I do. It's quite funny.

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  11. very helpful tips, thanks for sharing them with us :)

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  12. Hmm, I never thought about this! I'm looking crazy over here saying different things from the stomach and mouth haha

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    1. lol and did you noticed any difference?

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  13. Oh wow some great tips mashaa allah. I will try this for sure.

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