Quite a few years ago our younger daughter had a sleepover organised with a friend in town. I was the designated driver. (Not that sort! She was only 10!)
We live in a country area, and car cleaning has never been a priority – but that day, ours looked like something out of the Beverly Hillbilllies. I didn’t have time to wash it.
What would you have done? I had a brainwave! When I dropped our daughter off at her friend’s, her mum, or whoever opened their door, would only see the passenger side of the car. So, guess what! That’s all I cleaned.
But what on Earth has that got to do with your or anybody else’s Sunday-best voice? Well, although the car had one clean side and three grubby ones, from whichever one of those that our neighbours looked at it, clean or grubby, they’d recognise it as our car.
In almost any kind of public speaking, almost everyone uses the best or one of the better versions of their voice. There’s nothing wrong with that – usually. With the people I coach, I jokingly divide my voice into the days of the week – my Monday-morning voice being the laziest and worst: Sunday, my best. But I like to think that my neighbours would recognise them all as definitely me.
Where the Sunday-best thing comes unstuck is when the speaker doesn’t just smarten their voice a bit: maybe with better diction, adjusting the speed at which they speak, or warming the way they talk – but rather than smartening up, they have a complete change of costume… a sort of vocal disguise.
That’s what can happen with their voice: and this often goes hand in hand with an unnatural, ‘put on’ way of getting their message across. So that if their neighbours had their eyes closed, they might not have a clue who was talking.
Is there anything wrong with that? Er… yes! You’re not going to be able to form a rapport with your listeners if you’re being fake in any way. For instance, I work a lot with celebrants and celebrants-in-training. I tell them that when they’re presenting a ceremony to not only be one of the better versions of themselves, but that it’s essential that they’re authentic and natural… Someone their neighbours would recognise!
(Did you know that there’s a Paul Robinson in the television program, Neighbours?
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