Regional and ethnic accents are positive; they are part of individual personality.
Gradually, over the years, through the migration of people and exposure to the media, accents are being broken down and neutralised. In some ways this is a shame because accents can add a dimension and distinctiveness to voice and emphasise individuality.
It is important to get used to the sound of your own voice. Most people are more relaxed in a private situation, particularly at home, where there are no pressures to conform to any other social rules and expectations. This is not the case in public situations when there are all sorts of influences exerted upon the way people speak.
Try recording your own voice in an informal setting, like at home.
Listen carefully to how you sound in order to become accustomed to your own voice.
You might also note any aspects of your speech which reduce the overall effectiveness of your message.
Often people don’t like the sound of their own recorded voice – in the same way that some people don’t like photographs of themselves – they can feel embarrassed.
Most of us are not used to hearing our own voices and these feelings are totally normal. Get past the initial, ‘Do I really sound like that?’ stage and develop a better understanding of your voice.
When relaxed you will feel more confident, therefore by listening to your voice at home you will have an idea of how you sound to other people. Although you cannot hear your voice in the same way that others hear you, you can develop an awareness of its impact on others. Understanding the physical nature of your voice will give you more control over the way that you use it.
Individuals are all used to using language in an informal way in their everyday lives, but as soon as a hint of formality is suggested, they can become self-conscious and seize up. This becomes especially obvious when speaking in front of strangers in a public setting.
The more you get used to the sound of your voice functioning in a slightly more formal way, the easier it is when doing it ‘for real’. In conversational mode, individuals tend to speak in short phrases, a few at a time. Reading aloud helps you to become used to the more fluent sound of your voice.
Find a document to read, something about two pages in length – the first few pages of a book would work well.
Read your document through silently first, then read it aloud in your normal speaking voice. Don’t worry if you stumble or falter, just pick up and continue to the end.
Now read it a third time, recording your voice if possible and remember:
Practise this exercise as often as you can.
Anyone can improve the sound of their voice and the way they speak in a matter of days through a few simple exercises, like the one above. To improve you will need to maintain a certain commitment and practice regularly for a few minutes.