A lot of people – men in particular – wish that they had louder, or deeper voices. A booming voice makes a guy feel more masculine and it helps them to demand more attention and respect in a social setting. Often we feel as though if only we had a deeper voice, we might be more ‘alpha’ and get more respect from our friends and colleagues.
Thus plenty of us will have at some point gone onto Google and searched ‘how to get a deeper voice’.
The results can be split into two categories: those that provide all kinds of fruitless exercises and techniques that end up giving us a sore throat, and those that tell us honestly that there’s nothing you can do about it.
Maybe you even tried constantly speaking in your best Barry White impression for a while. I would be lying if I said I’ve never done this…
So what’s the scoop? Can you lower your voice or not?
Should you even be trying to?
How to Speak With Power and Authority
The bad news is that there’s very little you can do to change the pitch of your natural speaking voice. Your pitch is controlled by the size of your vocal cords, which in turn is related to the amount of testosterone they were exposed to during your teenage years. If you’re an adult, it’s too late to do anything about it. If you’re a teenager or younger? There’s nothing you can do to guarantee you’ll develop a deeper voice anyway. You can try testosterone boosters if you like but you’ll only be wasting your money…
There is no vocal exercise that will lower your voice and trying to ‘put on’ a deep voice just makes you sound stupid. And it potentially damages your vocal cords.
So instead, consider trying something else: projecting.
Projecting means that you learn to speak properly like a stage actor or an opera singer. And while this won’t make your voice any deeper, the impact will be much greater anyway. This is how you demand attention and respect.
Don’t believe me? Think about classically trained actors such as Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen or Timothy Dalton. These guys command presence and have huge voices and it has nothing to do with their pitch.
My Uncle is an opera singer and his voice is similarly booming. It’s freaking awesome.
How to Project
So now you’re hopefully on the right path: you need to learn to project if you want your voice to do you justice and lend gravitas to everything you say.
The key thing to recognize here is that projecting your voice is not the same as yelling. Yelling when you speak will only make you seem crazy and it will actually damage your vocal cords again. This is why actors are taught to project – so that they can reach the back of the theater without having to shout.
To create volume you have two options: using your vocal cords or using your diaphragm. As you have probably already guessed, your aim is to use your diaphragm and the first way you do this is by learning to breathe properly.
Proper breathing means breathing with your diaphragm and you know you’re doing this because your gut should expand outward first when you breathe in. You are expanding your stomach in order to create space in your abdominal cavity. This in turn allows the diaphragm to lower which expands the lungs from the bottom up.
When you breathe out, your stomach should flatten first by tightening your transverse abdominis (the band of muscle around your stomach) and this will then expel the air.
Once you can breathe correctly so that it comes from your diaphragm, you should then be able to speak this way too – with the power and the air coming from deeper in your lungs, propelled by your abs. This is projecting. Think of it as making your voice ‘bigger’, instead of trying to throw the voice you have farther.
Practice and Tips
That’s the theory but the only real way to make it stick is to practice. One training exercise that is popular is called the ‘ha’ exercise. Here you practice breathing using the correct technique and then force out all the air you can while projecting a ‘ha’ noise.
You should be able to hear the difference when you get it right. It will sound slightly deeper than a shout, richer and more complex. You might notice it causes slight tremors through your bones as you do it.
Of course you can also just practice speaking sentences aloud this way and trying to project your voice as much as possible as you do. Read a few lines each morning while you’re getting ready and visualize yourself speaking to a large auditorium.
In order to get this right, you’ll also need to be standing up straight with proper posture. The more upright you are, the more you’ll be able to open up your abdominal cavity and let the air in. This will also prevent too much of your sound from being absorbed by the floor.
Another tip is to speak more slowly and to practice your enunciation. Not only will this help your words to sound that much clearer but you’ll also need to take your time in order to control your breathing throughout long sentences. Speaking more slowly will also reduce your filler noises (um, ah, err) and will make you sound instantly more intelligent as a result. Simply being more conscious of your articulation is often enough to make what you’re saying sound that much better.