‘I was so terrified of public speaking. I was freaked out all the time.’
“I was terrified of public speaking. I was freaked out all the time. I would get onstage, and my voice would be quivering. I couldn’t breathe; my heart was pounding out of my chest. As a singer, you have to find your strength. I have certain music I’m great at. I can sing Broadway, I can sing church music, I can sing some opera. I don’t sing hard rock. The number one problem, especially with women, is they talk too low. They’ve been told if they want to sound authoritative, they should speak at a lower pitch. Or they’ve read some book that advises speaking from your chest. You’re doing a lot of damage to yourself.
“Everybody talks, but everybody can’t do it right. We all learn by mimicking, so your voice is the product of habit, a habit you’ve had all your life. It makes a huge difference in how you’re perceived. People have this idea that singing is magical, but anybody can talk. They don’t think of speaking as something you need to learn. But everyone, from attorneys and ministers to teachers to someone who wants to give a TED talk, needs this kind of training.
You want your voice to have a measure of power, but you want to be approachable and authoritative at the same time.
“Voice alchemy is a holistic approach to improving your voice. It’s a little bit of classical voice training, speech therapy, postural alignment, some of it is emotional connection. All put together, it helps people communicate clearly. The voice is the voice. It is the first impression people get of you.
“What you need to do is find your optimal pitch, a range of your favorite notes; your voice’s home base. This is where your voice is going to sound the most animated, the clearest, and will last you all day — and even sound the sexiest, which is what most women are going for. You want your voice to have a measure of power, but you want to be approachable and authoritative at the same time. It requires rehearsal, whether you’re singing or speaking. It starts with how you breathe. You can do exercises. We usually start with embryonic sounds; the sounds that babies make. That’s how we learn to speak — a sigh, a yawn, anything that relaxes and opens up the throat. Everyone has a starting point, a different instrument, a different natural tone. But I’ve met very few people who are unable to make improvements.”
Interviewed by Barbara Schuler