If you are trying to change an aspect of your sound—be it related to accent, voice quality, articulation, phrasing, or tone of voice, you need to be able to hear yourself accurately to be successful. Many people are alarmed when they hear how they sound on a recording. However, as I mentioned in my last post, becoming aware of your sound is a necessary step in learning any new speech motor skill.
Why is accurate auditory self-perception difficult? Because we hear our own voices differently than others hear it. That is because we hear it internally via bone conduction and externally via air conduction. If you plug your ears and talk you may not hear the sounds around you, but you can hear your own talking.
Here are three ideas to improve your auditory perception:
- Record yourself and observe what you hear. Prepare to feel uneasy but trust the process.
- Tune into how your speech and voice feels. Exaggerate the sound you wish to change and focus on it with curiosity. Experience its quality, movement, vibration, opening, and points of contact. Notice how the sound changes if you adjust your tongue position, mouth opening, breathing, or other speech-related action.
- Listen carefully to others. Observe their voices and speech patterns.
After you connect the dots between the sound of your recorded voice versus your spoken voice and the feeling of your voice versus the sound, and you have developed your ear to more keenly perceive others’
voices, challenge yourself further: Be aware of your sound as you speak. Of course, speech is first and foremost about communication—don’t analyze your voice all of the time. But in select situations, with certain people, or a few minutes several times a day, tune in and become an expert on your own sound.