While I have been visually compared to a plethora of actors and famous folk, ranging from Guy Pearce (when he’s bearded) to Kevin Smith (if he was thin and unbearded) to Charles Manson (without the evil), I personally find my voice much more interesting. Care for a sample? Listen to the first few minutes of this.
By my mid-teens, callers to our house often mistook my voice for my dad’s when I answered the phone. In actuality, my voice is deeper than his, but few ever made that connection. Well, not deep — I prefer the term “low.” I sound like James Earl Jones when I get a sore throat, but my vocal chords don’t have that type of bass resonance on average. Think of my voice more like the low, mechanical droning of an old refrigerator. Yeah, that’s sexy. I’m a little nasal, too, which allows me to pull a mean Kermit the Frog or Ernie (of Bert and Ernie) impression. So, that’s the first two parts of this post’s title covered, but what about the third?
My first job was at Blockbuster, and since I wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence, my manager kept on me about the fact that I didn’t greet incoming customers very loudly. I got over that, sure enough, but as time went on, I realized that a low, booming voice was a little much for most folks. I’m also not that easy to understand, either, regardless of projection levels. Taking my natural voice and making it louder tends to come across as more aggressive than I intend it to, though, so I started altering my greeting; I began to speak with a higher pitch when saying “Hi” to people. People tend to skew their vocal range higher when speaking with little kids, so as to appear more inviting, and it’s no different in my situation. It became a habit, and now I raise and soften my voice as a way to put others as ease… to better-portray the friendliness I intend and my big smile infers. I tend to forget about all of this, but every once in a while I remember that this (now) completely natural way of speaking is actually a purposefully learned trait for me.
I’m working with a friend on the story for a movie project that deals with communication, and through a happenstance train of thought, I landed on this thought of how I have curated my own natural self to better communicate with folks around me. I think we all do that, don’t we? At least, we aspire to. Perhaps it’s not with retail-store customers or children we work with, and perhaps it has nothing to do with vocal intonation, but we certainly all hope to be understood by those we care about.
And what’s more natural than that?