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Finding Your Voice with Communication Expert and Vocal Coach Kim A. Page

Speak up, be heard, use your voice.  Seems like whenever women gather either virtually or in person, the topic comes up. Which is why it was a thrill to be able to join the Female Founders in Hospitality's first masterclass series with Kim A. Page, communications expert and vocal coach, whose book 'The Right Kind of Loud: Finding Your Communication Voice' is part of the curriculum at several business schools. 

Kim A Page hertelier

Why Women Don’t Feel Heard

In a 2014 Harvard Business Review survey of 270 female managers in Fortune 500 companies, more than half of these managers reported that mixed-gender meetings posed two significant problems for them. First, women have difficulty breaking into the discussions because they are ignored, disregarded, or spoken over. And second, when women do manage to get airtime, they are continually interrupted and challenged. {Sigh} How can it be that a decade later, getting heard is still a big issue for women?!

In her book and extensive experience coaching executives at Google, HSBC, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other major organizations, Kim actually suggests starting with your voice. It’s no secret that women’s voices are softer and tend to have a higher pitch than a man’s, but according to Kim there are ways to work on our voices that can give us the confidence to speak up.  

Our Voice is Naked–and Powerful 

Created inside our body, our voice brings qualities and impressions that tell their own story, sometimes a different one than our words. This coming from our own inside, is exactly why it is so powerful as a communication tool. And why it is so vulnerable.

Have you ever heard your voice played back in a recording and you hate it? That is normal.

The voice is a unique and intimate expression of ourselves, how you feel about your own voice comes from years of reactions from others…and from ourselves. Have you ever heard your voice played back in a recording and you hate it? That is normal. Also, many adults have "vocal wounds" from past experiences where they were judged or told to be silent about their voice. This can inhibit free expression.  

Women’s Voices are Perceived Differently  

When you research voice ideals on YouTube, these are the titles used by the popular "WatchMojo Channel," known for doing top ten lists. It might be subtle, but the message is clear:

‘Top actresses with sexy voices’ -’ Top actors with voices women find sexy’

Women are objects, sexy or not - men are subjects, they have the right to be whatever they want to be while women can perceive them in different ways.

When we start the journey towards unleashing the power of our voice, women have an added set of challenges. First up, we have the objectification and the expectancy to be - not to be perceived as - attractive. Add likeable, manageable, not too strong. The list goes on.

For women in leadership roles, the challenges are multi-layered. The way we use our voice reflects how we take the room, how we express needs and draw boundaries and it’s a key component when we want to induce trust and respect. As one of the most effective tools in our personal communication style, using it well can be the make or break in many situations.

What is a Good Voice? 

Our voice is an inseparable part of our personality. As we are unique and different, so are our voices. Add the fact that each region around the world has its own vocal tradition, giving us limitless versions of sounds and vocal ideals. 

When asked what makes a voice good, Kim mentioned three qualities that are valid no matter who or where you are: 

  • A good voice is body connected, meaning that it is projected from the diaphragm muscle inside the stomach. Many adults are disconnected from their bodies. When that is the case, the first step towards vocal power is to connect with the body and find the right place to project the sounds from. Making this connection has the added benefit of giving us a confidence boost. Like accessing the gears on a motorcycle, knowing you can go strong and fast or soft and slow as you please, gives us a feeling of being in charge. 

  • The least likable voice is a monotone one that sounds synthetic. We want the voice to sound human and the way we do that is by using vocal variety. Our voice is not a fixed entity, there’s a range of vocal elements that we can play around with to create variation: different pitches from low to high tone, different volume from soft to strong, variations in speed from slow to fast and the sound itself, providing us with countless qualities. 

  • Voice expression is more important than anything else. Even a voice that is projected with inhibitions hits home as long as it is connected to the feelings of its sender. There is no one-way of speaking with an expressive voice. It comes naturally when you are comfortable with yourself and engaged in your topic. And the nice thing is, when we connect with the emotions of our topic, this activates vocal variety too. By bringing our feelings into expression, the whole array of elasticity is activated organically. 

Play around and use your voice in as many ways as you can. And make it fun! If your safe singing space is in the shower, go ahead.

Four Key Hacks to Help Women Get Heard

  1. The first step towards unleashing the power of your voice is to let go of judgment and befriend it, so we can enter a space of curiosity and playfulness. Far too often we have an undefined sense of perfection towards our own voice, preventing us from letting it free. You’ll have to find your personal way of leaning into acceptance. This is the first step towards finding our vocal power. 

  2. Play around and use your voice in as many ways as you can. And make it fun! If your safe singing space is in the shower, go ahead. If it’s in the car with the volume on top, let it roll. If okay at home alone or with family and friends, put on your favorite track and sing along. Singing, chanting, or other vocal play can help develop your voice and increase confidence. 

  3. You might even want to try a choir rehearsal with a local group. Singing together with others adds to the joy. Did you know that when we sing with others, our heartbeats join into the same rhythm? You’ll get to practice and have fun while developing your voice and increase your confidence. 

  4. If it’s time for you to dive in and work in your voice with a voice coach, here’s some good news for you: a handful of sessions with awareness and practice tools can make a world of difference. Literally, or rather, audibly.

The session definitely resonated (pun intended!) with the audience on the FFiH webinar. “I love the intentionality of this topic. It brings awareness to one of the most important tools we have in our arsenal and I love that Kim is helping bring this subject to the forefront.” – Melissa Maher, CEO, Pinnacle Enterprises Group.

Click the highlighted links for more information on Kim A. Page and FFiH.


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