It goes without saying that we all want to make ourselves heard, but what happens when we physically struggle to do that?
Social situations can be stressful, and I’ve always tried to avoid clubs and bars in favour of smaller pubs and restaurants where I stand some chance of being able to hold a conversation – although even then, too much ambient noise can be problematic.
On the odd occasion when I do venture into a noisy social space, I tend to leave with a very sore throat, exhausted after hours of shouting. I don’t think I’ve ever met a new friend in a group setting, because the ‘getting to know you’ questions and answers are simply too much of a challenge. And now that I think about it, most of my boyfriends over the years have been relatively quiet types – and I didn’t meet a single one in a crowded bar.
Working in the busy newsroom of the big regional daily paper where I began my career, I was constantly having to make an effort to project my voice as I conducted interviews over the phone, while in the background TVs blared and colleagues held their own conversations, usually at high volume. It’s much easier now that I work from home, where I rarely work in anything other than complete silence. Getting the attention of my editors is far easier by email than it ever was face to face. In my own ears, my voice sounds just like anyone else’s. But apparently it just doesn’t come across that way, particularly when there’s any background noise.
As a classic introvert, speaking up doesn’t come naturally at the best of times – so to have my efforts fail on such a regular basis understandably makes me even more shy. Wouldn’t it be nice, I’ve often thought, to have a big, booming voice that commands attention, making people sit up and listen? Such as my sister’s. She often jokes that she got my share of the vocal chords. ‘It’s like I stole your voice!’ she has said on many occasions.
But does it have to be that way? Am I genetically destined to have to repeat myself endlessly, or is there something I can do to boost my diminutive voice? I decided to get in touch with voice coach and singing teacher Jules Olsen, whose former clients have included businessmen and teachers as well as wannabe pop stars.