Here is the full text of voice expert Roger Love’s talk titled “Is Your Voice Ruining Your Life” at TEDxBend conference.
Roger Love – TEDx Talk TRANSCRIPT
I was born singing. When I was a little, little child, if ever I was sad, I would just open out my mouth and bust out a tune, and then I would feel better.
I didn’t understand all of the science, the things that I know now. I only knew that singing made me feel better.
When I was 13, I finally convinced my parents to allow me to go and study voice with the most famous voice teacher in all of Los Angeles, and that was an incredible experience.
And when I was 16, he suddenly decided to leave, to go to Banff and teach a master class. And he said, “Roger, do you want to come over after school and teach a few lessons?”
And I said, “Sure!”
So I show up after school, and my first student is Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. And then supergroups, like the Jacksons and Earth, Wind and Fire, and Chicago. And as you can imagine, that was very challenging.
But I realized, even at 16, that I have the ability to change people’s voices for the better. And I loved it. And I still love it.
When you help someone find their real authentic voice, they are overcome with unimaginable joy. And so the fact that I get to be a part of that transformation, on a day-to-day basis, makes me grateful, every day, all day.
With your permission, I would like to share with you some of the insights that I’ve learned over 30 years of working with voices, offering you the same techniques that I’ve taught some of my superstar clients, and showing you how those ideas actually apply directly to what you and I need to know.
First, your voice is the most powerful communication tool that you possess. And yet many of you are trapped behind voices that don’t even begin to convey or showcase the very best of who you are.
Second, I realized that there is really no difference between singing and speaking, and once you know that your voice is a musical instrument, that needs to change the whole game.
And third, I say that all speaking is public speaking. So you’re responsible for the sounds that come out of your mouth whether you’re talking to one person at the market or whether you’re talking to 1400 amazing people here at TEDxBend. Really.
Let me separate fact from fiction and help you find the voice that connects you to people and moves them emotionally when you speak.
Here are some things that you might not know. For example, your voice was not designed for you. I believe truly! I believe that it is something we are supposed to learn, and then it’s a gift that we give away.
So, follow me on this: If I want to talk to myself, I do not have to open my mouth. I don’t have to let sound come out. I’m going to tell myself a joke right now.
Hah! That was a funny joke.
But when you do open your mouth, sound travels away from you in the form of invisible sound waves. And when those sound waves hit the bodies of the people that are listening to me, their brains interpret those sound waves into thoughts and emotions and memories.
It might surprise you to understand, then, that your voice, going out that way, is to make them hear you, to make them feel something. Your voice is a gift for them.
Do you know why people have come to me for 30 years — the number one reason? It’s because they’re losing their voices. They want to sing or speak all day and night, and they are getting hoarse.
So if that’s anyone of your problems here, let me fix that right now.
Here’s why it’s happening: You’re breathing in through your mouth. We are born supposed to breathe in through the nose. There are filters in the nose called turbinates. And when you breathe in through the nose, the air becomes moist so it doesn’t dry out your throat and your vocal cords.
Try this with me. When I say “Go,” I want you to open your mouth and to take a nice slow breath in. Go! Do you feel how drying that is? It made some people want to cough.
Now, close your mouth and take a breath in through your nose. No dryness.
Just go back to the way you were born! Breathe in through your nose, and you’ll never get hoarse again.
Now, it may also surprise you to understand that people are consumed with thinking that if they get a ton of air into their body, that that’ll somehow make them great speakers, that if you fill your lungs filled with air, then surely what comes out is going to be amazing.
But that’s not the case. Get all the air you want into your lungs, that doesn’t make you a great communicator. What is more important is to learn how to send air out of your mouth.
Why? Because all of your beautiful sound is riding out on that air, trying to get to the people as your gift.
So let me show you how to do that. It’s called diaphragmatic breathing. And though you may say, “Roger, I’ve heard of diaphragmatic breathing.”
Let me show you specifically how to use diaphragmatic breathing to finally get control over volume and projection. So, everybody, if they would just sit up straight in their chairs, with their chest up and their shoulders back and down.
Posture matters, by the way. Because we live in a world where people are just slumping over all the time. And when you round over your shoulders like that, you’re blocking air into the lungs because your ribcage is in the way.
So, chest up, shoulders back and down. I want you to learn to breathe in through your nose, like I just showed you, but then to pretend that you have a balloon in your abdomen.
I promise you won’t look fat. A balloon in your abdomen. Breathe in through your nose, you fill up that balloon. And then, when you exhale, you let your abdomen come back in.
Try this with me, and I’m going to give you some words to say. I want you to say, “Roger only wants me to speak while my abdomen is coming back in.”