Professional Women Seek To Boost Career By Changing Voice

NBC Channel 4, Washington DC - November 2007

Speaking Well About Confidence, Expert Says

WASHINGTON -- Women who are looking for a career boost often work on the resume, their contacts and their appearance, but their voice could be what's really holding them back.

Voice coaching is becoming a popular strategy as professional women try to sound as powerful as they are.

Dr. Susan Miller is a speech pathologist who specializes in helping career women develop a voice that will make an impact.

"I'm worried about women meeting their career goals," said Miller.

"If I have something really important to say or a woman has something really important to say and they say it in a very soft, breathy tone, no one will hear them, acoustically they won't be heard, because there's no power behind it," Miller said.

Using computers and a video camera for feedback, Miller works on breathing and resonance-- getting the voice to come from your diaphragm, not your nose.

"Women often can get very nasal or, especially if you scream, they'll get very high-pitched, and that again is because the instrument is tightening," Miller said.

Kisha Sogunro came to Miller because she often speaks to community groups and didn't like her performance.

"A lot of the tension would build up and losing my train of thought. So I needed to focus," Sogunro said.

Financial officer Ann Nichols has to deliver economic reports to her bosses and doesn't like the way she sounds.

"I just sound like I'm a little too nervous and I'm going too fast," Nichols said.

Miller emphasized that speaking well isn't just about your vocal cords or your breathing. It's about confidence. Whether you're asking questions at the board meeting, speaking at a conference or to a jury, you have to sound like you're on top of your game.

"It may be someone that's a patent attorney who's become a CEO of a company and now needs to enter that room differently and use her voice differently in a board meeting than she would in patent attorney's office," Miller said.

Since we do so much business by phone, a good phone voice is critical.

"It's your voice that has to sell you right at the get-go because you're not there in person. So we need to take our voices seriously, especially women," Miller said.

Wonder what kind of voice you have? Listen to the message on your answering machine. Hate it? Then change it.

"People feel they're born with a given voice and they can't change it, but that's really not true," Miller said.

More Information:

Dr. Susan Miller, Voice Trainer
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