Many spend an inordinate amount of time working out in gyms hoping for that perfect waist, six pack, thighs and pecks. But I bet few ever bother to think about excising one of our greatest assets. The voice.
When you think about it, a large part of what we graphic designers do involves verbally communicating our thoughts and ideas to clients. Our voice is directly connected to our emotions. I’m sure you can detect the mood of a friend within seconds when chatting over the phone
I became interested in the voice around the age of ten. I was an avid radio listener (still am). Plays and comedy shows painted pictures of the characters through the different voices. The sound, timbre, intonation and accent all fascinated me. I became quite good at imitating a whole range of accents, including the teachers at my school. This interest has stayed with me.
Around the age of thirteen or fourteen, and living as I did in a working class area, I became acutely aware of how people were judged by their accents – at that time, and we are talking the late 50s, it was a rarity to hear anything other than an RP (received pronunciation) accents on the BBC. Anyone speaking with regional or cockney accents were considered thick or country bumpkins.
An awareness of the voice as a useful instrument in our armoury of persuasion, should not be underestimated. Clarity, articulation, tone and flow are important ingredients in achieving an effective use of this fantastic instrument that we all possess. But like anything else, it needs understanding, practice and exercise to use it effectively. The number of times that I have listened and watched designers presenting their work - and often very good work too - only to be totally underwhelming because of their inarticulate mumblings. Don’t let it happen. We all have the most wonderful gift in the potential of our voice. Nurture it. Exercise it. Use it. Record your voice and play it back? It is very revealing.
I find it so uninspiring listening to people with dull monotonous voices. Just as I loathe the overblown way that many broadcasters use their voices. American reporters and newscasters being the worst culprits. Take this example. The bazaar and random emphasis on individual words making the speaker sound completely loopy. A British example of this potty broadcast style of speaking is the BBC’s business correspondent, Robert Peston. His intonation is quite extraordinary. If SOMEone were TO speak to y0000u LIIIIKKKKE this with THEIR voice going up annnnd DOWN, emphasising WORDS in ALL the wrongggg PLACES you would think THEY had A screw loose. Tune into the BBC Radio 4 Today programme and judge for yourself.
One on the best exponents of delivering a beautiful conversational style of speech was the late Alistair Cook. Beautiful and simple. John Hurt making an appeal does it without any verbal histrionics. Like all simple things, they are the most difficult to achieve.
So think about your (possibly) hidden asset. Are you using it to its full potential?