Our Voice and its Changes in Tone


Chopin Nocturne

These are notes I took from a teacher of mine, Peter, many, many years ago.  I came across them and found so many great thoughts I will share with you.

Chopin It’s rumored that whenever Chopin played, he never played forte. But between piano and mezzo he found so many steps or gradients that by the time he got to mezzo it sounded like thunder (or the illusion of thunder.) This artistically makes the point about the need for shading or fine-tuning the voice when speaking.


Changes in voice tone when presenting

Question: Why does the tone of voice transform from conversational to unnatural/ presenter mode as soon as people stand up to present?

Peter: I’m going to answer this in an unexpected way.

Why does the tone of voice of some people change when they speak to their parents, or when they speak to their boss, or when they speak to their lover, or when they speak to a subordinate or when they speak to a newspaper vendor?

The answer is that we each have a different persona or different personalities within us that we use for different situations. Some of these we control and some of them we don’t control. Each of these personalities has a slightly different voice so when the voice happens to be undesirable; it’s the voice of one of the many personalities within us that we don’t control. That’s the real reason.

Very few people realize how much they change in certain situations. For example, when they meet the Prime Minister why do they change? They feel an obligation to stand differently, talk differently, look differently and answer questions differently – they behave very differently.

Sometimes it is more controlled, as when you make a sales call you may decide to be a little more energetic or a little more aggressive or less so depending on the client. You may decide to be a little more driver or a little more analytical. Those changes are somewhat in our control and done by choice.

Responding with nervousness is allowing a personality to take over when we’re not in control of it.

Question: Isn’t one of our goals to help our clients bring their ‘real selves’ forward?

Peter: It’s either that or to strengthen one of the positive personalities. It’s both actually. To weaken whatever negative personality might be in charge and strengthen the positive. We think of it as attributes rather than personalities, but personalities is probably more accurate.

We have to ask ourselves a question. Why do people lose their ability to think or to project the “right” personality when they are at the center of attention?

Actually, it should be why do some people. Some people think more clearly when they are the center of attention – the challenge wakes them up. In the case of the people who do lose their ability to think, I think that the fear factor causes their attention to become fixated on something.

It could be making the right impression, not failing, getting out of there, or it could be something buried in the subconscious. So the attention is fixated, it’s frozen or it’s stuck to something. Without that free movement of attention you can’t think on your feet when you are the center of attention.

So much to take from these words. Thank you, Peter, for your wisdom about finding our authenticity.