Hey everyone, thank you so much for joining me. My name is Hadar, and today we are going to talk about your voice in English. Yes, you heard me. Your voice.
If you are a speaker of English as a second language or third language or fourth language, then you must have had this experience where you wanted to communicate in English, you wanted to speak up, but your voice was just not there for you. It was a little soft, it was too low, it was shaky, and you just didn’t know what to do. And obviously, it has affected your confidence and prevented you from communicating powerfully and confidently.
So, in this video, I’m going to give you a few exercises that you can do before you have to do a Zoom call or before you have a job interview or a public talk that you’re a little nervous about, or just something you can do every day to free up your voice in English, but also in your native language.
But before we go into the exercises, if you are new to my channel, then welcome, first of all, and second, I want you to know that this is the place for you to improve your communication skills and boost your confidence in English, because we are going to make you feel really good about how you communicate in English. So be sure to subscribe to my channel and also subscribe to get the notifications, so you know when I release a new video every single week.
Okay. So the first thing you need to know about your voice in English is that when you hold tension in your body, it will affect your voice. Now, sometimes we hold tension just because it’s a habit. Sometimes we hold tension because we’re nervous when communicating, because there’s this whole other aspect of communicating in English that creates tension.
Like, “What if I can’t find the right words? What if I get stuck? What are they going to think about my accent? I don’t feel like myself in English because I can’t really express myself?” And all of these thoughts that go through your head when you speak English, they affect your body and your voice because it creates tension and nervous energy, and the voice is highly affected by the nervous system.
So if you feel that your voice is stuck and stifled and weak, it’s probably first and foremost because of the tension that you hold in your body and your nervous system. The second thing I want you to know is that voice is frequencies and vibrations. And our voices resonate in different places in our body wherever there is space. Okay?
So you can resonate your voice in your chest. You can resonate your voice in your nasal cavities in your head, right? This is where the voice resonates. So the bigger the resonance box is, the bigger your voice is.
But sometimes the voice quality of your native language affects your voice quality in English. Because for some languages, you only resonate your voice in one place. Some languages resonate the voice mostly in the nose and head. Some languages, my language Hebrew resonates mostly in the throat and chest, so it’s a lot more throaty and usually lower.
Ideally, for English, you want your voice to be somewhere between your chest voice and your head voice. Because when you speak, you want to have that perfect ring – that’s how my voice teacher used to call it when I was in acting school – that perfect ring that is a blend of the lower frequencies and the higher frequencies.
So you don’t want your voice to be stuck up here and you don’t want also your voice to be all the way down here, and without a lot of breadth supporting it cause then you will fry your voice. This is called the vocal fry.
So you want to find the perfect placement for your voice for it to come out naturally. And here’s the thing, sometimes we do change our voices depending on the situation. So this vocal fry is something that often happens at the end of sentences or when you’re really, really tired.
But if you use the deliberately, first of all, they say it’s not that healthy for your voice, but also your voice is not going to be as expressive. There are less emotion that you can carry over when your voice is down here, right?
So, this is why you want to have the ability to control your voice, and then you can choose whatever you like most. But the most important thing. Is that you have the power to control it and the exercise that we’re going to do in a second are going to help you identify the different places.
The last reason why you may not be using your full vocal potential could be cultural. In some cultures it is considered to be rude, inappropriate, and unacceptable sometimes to speak at a higher volume.
If you grew up hearing around you all of the time, “You gotta be quiet”, “You speak too loudly, shut up”, then of course, it’s going to affect the voice that you have as an adult.
So the first thing is to be aware of that, and to know that what you have heard from the surroundings does not mean that it is true and it is the right thing to do, especially when you need to communicate in English. And English is a language that is vocally expressive. You express a lot of emotions in English.
And if you want to be a powerful communicator, and if you want for people to hear you, you got to have those tools to speak up and use your voice fully. So, it’s not only a physical thing, it is also a mental thing. So you want to cut those ties with those ideas that have led to your fear of using your full voice.
And the way I see it, it’s not a matter of being angry at it or resentful or frustrated, it is how it is. There are some beautiful things about your culture that serve you so well, but some things may not serve you that well.
So as an adult, it’s okay to say, “I want to take this, but I don’t want to take that anymore because this has been limiting for me as my adult self, and I don’t want to use that anymore”. And with the exercises I’m going to share in the video, you will be able to find different expressions for your voice.
The first thing we’re going to do is to start with a facial warmup. So you want to identify if you have some stress in your jaw, so maybe around here. And maybe move your jaw with your hand, slide your fingers down so your jaw dropped. And then you can also release a sound – ‘aaahhh’. Now try to make the sound come out of your gut, of your belly, of your chest – ‘aaahhh’, don’t lock it and massage your jaw.
The next thing you want to do is to release that tension. So I want you to take your hands and grab your chin like that. And first of all, see if you can move your chin freely. If what happens is this – your hands are moving, but your jaw is not moving at all, which is usually the case, than you, first of all, want to be aware of it, right, and relax a bit more. And see how you can let go of the control of your jaw. So you want to be very aware of what’s going on there.
And then you want to release air. And as you release air, you want to move the jaw really fast, like this. Let’s do it again. So I’m going to do it from here. Look, take a deep breath, and release air. So again, if this is what’s happening – you are just moving your hands and your elbows, then your jaw is still locked and you want to relax it.
It will really help you with all those open vowel sounds like ‘aa’ and ‘ei’ and ‘ow’, where you have to open and move your jaws smoothly. But also it will help you with not holding tension that affects your vocal quality.
And now I want you to add voice to it like we did at the beginning when we massaged the jaw. You hear that funny voice that comes out? Yeah, you can laugh, it’s okay.
Now I want you to relax everything and release everything with <Lip trill>. Now, you want to go up and down to explore the entire range of your voice. <Lip trill>
Now you may feel tickles like I’m feeling right now. You can do the same with a tongue trill – <rrr> – like an R in some languages. <R trill>
And now you want to exaggerate chewing a big piece of bubble gum. Exaggerate it, like you’re overdoing it. Like you’re a three-year-old and you just got a big piece of bubblegum, and it’s hard for you to break it down. And you can hum. And then close your lips and keep on chewing. Good.
The next thing you want to do is to loosen up your body and to feel a bit more powerful and in control. Because if you hold tension, it will show up in your voice, but also in your confidence. Because when you feel that you’ve all fired up, of course it’s going to affect the way you communicate in a second language.
So, what I want you to do now is to dance. Yes! Dancing is so incredibly powerful. So stand up, we’re going to do it together. I’m going to play my favorite song, but you are going to play your favorite song when it’s time. A song that kinda like gets you all grooving and enjoying it. Are you ready? Let’s do this.
Yes, yes, even you that you’re sitting right now watching me? Now I want you to stand up and tell everyone in the house to go to the kitchen or something and dance with me. Are you ready? Let’s do this.
That felt good. Let’s move on.
After you got done with your dancing and you had a glass of water, I want you to explore your voice. What does that mean? You want to find the different places of resonance in your body.
So first of all, start with just releasing sound. Good. Now do it again, and as you do it, just tap on your chest.
Try to kind of like release that voice that is locked in here. And when you do it, hold your palms like this and, thankfully, I don’t have a neck mic. And try to release it and to bring the voice to all those weird places that you never thought your voice should resonate in.
And go a little lower. So if your voice is going to be here <high voice> – I mean, it’s still okay, but it’s not going to find that natural place of resonance, which is in the chest. The chest likes lower tones, lower frequencies, like to resonate in a larger space in the chest. So let’s do it again. Good.
Now you want to do the same thing with your voice, cause some people tend to go too low and kind of like their voices locked here. So for those of you who feel that this is where your voice is, I want you to bring it up here. And kind of like tap on the nasal cavities here.
Maybe go to the nose and deliberately create sound in the nose. Just to identify how you can control your voice and move it between different places in your body. So nose. You can kind of like hold it and feel the vibrations here. And then move it to your cheeks. And maybe feel it in your throat. And bring it to your chest. And also tap on all your organs just to wake it up, wake up your body. It’s good.
Okay. Roll your shoulders back. And now we’re going to work on expanding your chest to allow more space here. So kinda like roll your shoulders back and expand your chest. Good. And you can release sound as well. And give yourself permission to feel that, to make a sound.
Okay, good. The next thing we’re going to do is to explore the versatility of your voice. So I want you to take one sentence and use it in all of the different voices that you have. I want you to experiment with it. And really don’t judge yourself, and don’t do it around people that might ridicule you because this is not helpful.
And anyway you want to give them a piece of your mind if they make fun of you. Because they are the ones sitting and watching other people doing the work. And you are doing the work. Just saying.
So let’s take this one phrase, one simple phrase. Let’s try “What do you want?” And say it in your normal voice – “What do you want?” And then I want you to explore it with different emotions, different attitudes, and different placements in your body. “What do you want?” “What do you want?” “What do you want?” “What do you want?” “What do you want?”
So try different voices too. “What do you want?” “What do you want?” “What do you want?” “What do you want?” “What do you want?” “What do you want?” Okay. So you are exploring and showing yourself that you do have different voices. And if this is hard for you, you got to practice it because your voice is capable of having this variety.
And if you feel that you only have one voice is just because you haven’t explored it yet. But if you are a human, you should have a very, very wide range of sounds that you can create. Because we all have the same spaces in our bodies, and we also have the same muscle here, the vocal chords that create the voice.
Another thing you could do is to take a piece of text. It could be an email you just received, or it could be a story or an article or a transcript of a TED talk. And you want to say it as if you were telling it to a little child, and make it very animated and exaggerated just for you to explore the different placements of your voice.
For example. “It pains me to offend you, but amidst your concern for the defects of your nearest relations, and your displeasure at this representation of them, let it give you consolation to consider that, to have conducted yourself so as to avoid any share of the like censure, is praise no less generally bestowed on you…” You see where I’m going.
So you want to exaggerate it as if you are a really, really bad narrator, and you’re reading this book with overly pathos. But again, when you exaggerate something and you find versatility, you find variety, and then it’s a lot easier to tone it down.
When I teach pronunciation, I always say it’s okay to exaggerate. When you go into speaking, you tone it down anyway. So you might as well practice it in an exaggerated fashion. So when you tone it down, it probably would still be a little less than what you should express, but at least it’s closer.
Now, one of the first thing you should also think about is your breath. Your voice is connected to your breath. And if your breath is short, if you’re not breathing deeply, then it’s going to affect your voice.
So I want you to now breathe into your belly. Put your palm on your belly and breathe into your palm. A lot of times we just breathe into the chest and then our breath is very limited. There’s a lot more space in the chest. I know you might think it’s different, but when you breathe through your belly, you drop the diaphragm and more air enters your body.
So you want to breathe, it’s like yoga breathing. You want to breathe into your belly, and when you release the sound, you want to release it on your breath. And when you run out of breath, you got to take another breath, and then to speak on your breath.
I’m probably going to make a different video about breath, but I just wanted to mention that. So that if you feel that your breath is a little shallow, you want to work on that, especially, it also calms you down when you breathe in and when you fill up your body with oxygen. Of course, it’s going to. Help your nerves to calm down. Ahhh, okay, good.
If you feel that it’s hard for you to connect with your core and with your lower voice, and you feel that your voice is really soft or stuck up here. Or maybe it is down below, but it’s stifled like you feel it doesn’t resonate, you don’t have that ring, ring of a voice that is fully expressed. You don’t hear the voice bounced back to you from the walls of your home, then another great tactic is to laugh and to speak.
What does that mean? When you laugh, it’s primal, right? You’re activating your core muscles. Let’s try it out, it’s a lot of fun. Let’s try to force ourselves to laugh. <Laughing> It’s real. So, and it’s contagious, I know.
So when you do that, you feel that your voice is expressed a little differently when you speak. So you want to force yourself to laugh and then say something. ‘That is so true. So funny. You are so stupid’.
And then you want to speak and say something. ‘I am so awesome’. Right? And you say it as you’re connected with your deep voice. And it usually happens spontaneously when you laugh. Ah, okay. That was fun.
The last thing you want to talk about is the power speech. Now, hear me out all the way to the end because if there is one thing I want you to take from this video, it is this. Because I have done this with my students for the past two years and the results are pretty incredible.
This exercise will help you feel more confident, free, and powerful in English. And here’s how it works. Choose a monologue from a TV show or a movie that is very powerful. That the person is like really upset or excited or angry, and they speak out their mind. And you want to take that part and memorize it.
And it’s very important. Don’t skip that part and don’t just read it from the page. I mean, that’s also great, but that freedom that you have to use the words freely without having to analyze it as you read it, having to focus on the letters, having to focus on, “Wait, what comes next?”
Or, unlike speaking freely, where you have to kind of like retrieve the words, and ‘how do I put it?’, and then there’s all this judgment. When you memorize a text, it really helps you to feel super expressive and that the words flow out easily. And I know that because as an actress I had to memorize many different speeches, and I know it had an immense impact on my English and my fluency. Okay?
So memorize a really powerful speech. And we’re going to put a link to a bunch of different scripts that you can choose from. And just go ahead and do it, we did all the work for you. So you can select one and memorize that speech. And then every single day, or before an important meeting, I want you to stand in front of the mirror and do it full out – with all the anger and passion and fear, or whatever is happening to that character.
I want you to try and embody it and, you know, choose something that will feel fierce to you, that will make you get out of your own skin. Okay? That would, that it’s not something that you usually do.
I have had students telling me that they’ve discovered a voice that they’ve never knew that they even had. Because these are not your words, and this is not a real situation, you give yourself a lot more permission to speak up. And this is why I want you to do.
And this is something that I have done myself. Because when I was in school, I played lady Macbeth. And lady Macbeth is a very powerful character. And there is one thing in particular when she kind of grabs her husband and she’s like going full out at him.
And I used to take that one monologue and do it again and again and at home, as I was like alone, and with myself when I wanted to feel a little better about myself. Or when I would be really, really angry and I didn’t know how to express my emotions.
So I would go into that monologue and say it, and I felt like I’m expressing my emotions through the words of different characters. These are words that I would never say. And also I had to do it in a Scottish accent, which was kind of crazy in and of itself, but that was my experience. And I felt that it like, after that I felt, “Okay, I’m ready to take on the world! How about you?” Okay?
So this is what I want you to feel. So pick your favorite fierce monologue, a powerful speech, memorize it and do it full out. “You can’t handle the truth”. To wrap it up, I’m going to do that part of the monologue for you. Just so you see that if I can do it, you can do it too. And remember, do it in front of the mirror and use your imagination.
“What beast was’t then, That made you break this enterprise to me? When you durst do it, then you were a man; And, to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man. Nor time nor place did then adhere, you would make both!”
“They have made themselves! And that their fitness now does unmake you. I have given suck, and know how tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me. I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out! Had I so sworn as you have done to this”.
Okay, so this is my power speech. I hope you enjoyed it. And I hope these exercises helped you understand how you can own your voice in English, and in your native language as well.
If you like this video, click “Like” and share it with your friends so they can speak up as well. Don’t forget that in the description below, there is a list of powerful speeches that you can use.
And if you want to tell me what you think, what you felt, and if you want to share with me what speech you chose – come on over and send me a DM on Instagram. You can find me at @hadar.accentsway. I would love to hear what you think.
Okay. That’s it. Thank you so much for watching. And remember, the most important thing is that you speak up – with an accent, with mistakes, with getting stuck. Because what matters is what you have to say. Okay? Take good care of yourself, stay healthy, stay safe, and I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.