The Power of Your Voice

In today’s society we need to communicate in a way that inspires confidence, credibility and conviction. The way in which you deliver your message rather than its actual content determines how people receive you and your spoken ideas. Delivering a point that is fully heard depends to a large extent on your vocal clarity, tone of voice, pace of speech, and how you organise your thoughts – these factors account for 38% of your communication message. The rest of your message is made up of image and body language (55%), and content (only 7%).
Voice, image and body language all combine to create credibility in the form of trustworthiness and expertise. Other people’s perception of your credibility is all-important to your success: without credibility, it is very difficult to make yourself heard. Your voice affects how seriously you are taken, how respected you are, and the results you achieve with clients, co-workers and people in business. Of course, it also affects the relationships in your personal life. It is a powerful tool that you can use deliberately to influence and persuade people.”

Excerpt From: Monique Rissen-Harrisberg. “Make Yourself Heard.” iBooks.

Winter Warmer Voice Tips

How to look after your voice in winter

As winter is almost upon us it is vital that we keep voices healthy.

One only has to expose one's throat neck & chest to external cold to experience a tightening and stinging of the vocal chords as well as a dry mouth and strained throat.

Remember a good speaking voice is one that is easily heard and pleasant to the ear.
See our Winter Specials Online

Seven tips to help you during the winter months

  1. Keep your throat covered, By wearing a scarf, high collar or poloneck.
  2. Drink warm liquids such as hot water or tea with honey or warm soups.
  3. Try not to abuse your voice when outdoors by shouting and straining to project across sports fields for example.
  4. Throat lozenges or sucking sweets or mints are good.
  5. Drinking lots of water and fluids to keep your mouth moist.

6. If all else fails a hot toddy like granny used to make will help.

Alcoholic recipe

  • Brandy
  • Hot water
  • Honey
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Apple juice

Non-alcoholic recipe

  • Raw egg
  • Hot milk
  • Honey
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon

7. Remember smoking also dries out your mouth and throat.

Sent with the warm heart.
Yours in good voice!

Valentine's Shmooze Tips

Your voice can carry or swallow the message


THE US presidential election is a year away, but the race is already drawing huge media attention across the world. For The Voice Clinic’s CEO Monique Rissen-Harrisberg, it provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on the power of effective communication.

"The best speaker by far is Hillary Clinton," she says. "Her speech is clear, confident, and commanding. Her pitch is comfortably low, complemented by a brisk and efficient pace.

"Her thoughts are quick, her vocabulary excellent, and her use of gesture and facial expression is carefully constructed to appear natural and spontaneous."

Rissen-Harrisberg considers Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane as the most eloquent speaker among local politicians. With his excellent pronunciation and articulation, he reminds her of Barack Obama in his prime.

"He is on the right track to become a great speaker," she says. "He would benefit from some intervention, though, in terms of lowering his pitch and having a more trained approach to his voice.

"He could also improve his eye contact and use even bigger gestures. But as he grows and becomes more powerful, it will probably come quite naturally."

Rissen-Harrisberg says the least inspiring US candidate is Jeb Bush, whom she describes as "fairly lame in his approach" and "boring and flat, like a tired schoolteacher".

She expresses similar reservations about Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande, who she says "lacks conviction and definition when he speaks". "He has a blank facial expression. He is verbose and long-winded. And he speaks with a flat and mumbled tone. Perhaps if he was a more eloquent speaker, some of the mass protests could have been minimised."

Another politician Rissen-Harrisberg wishes would stand up and speak clearly is President Jacob Zuma. She says his voice is fairly clear and that he doesn’t mumble, but believes that his speech is too slow and that his eye contact with an audience is "shocking".

"Sometimes there is an upward inflection with his statements, which makes them sound like questions. He has a bizarre, demeaning, and unflattering chuckle that erupts from time to time. And he sometimes smiles in inappropriate places, like the middle of a serious discussion. You cannot deliver an assertive message while you are smiling. Cohesion of the message is key."

Rissen-Harrisberg believes that when we communicate, voice and body language must create one message. That’s why she believes the Economic Freedom Fighter’s MPs should dress the part in Parliament. Still, she describes leader Julius Malema as a "magnetic speaker" who consciously uses the communication tools available to him. "He has an open face," she says. "His excellent eye contact gives him power. He has a naughty glint in his eye, which makes you think he’s on your side."

There’s a similar sense of power in Donald Trump. Rissen-Harrisberg describes him as "puffed up", but can’t deny that he’s a "powerful speaker who projects himself as a macho-American capitalist". "He is inspirational, dogmatic and has powerful leadership qualities. A strong, deep and commanding vocal quality and presence make him a huge force to be reckoned with. He has strong views that are matched and in sync with his powerful presence."

So, who will become leader of the US? Rissen-Harrisberg has her money on Clinton, who she describes as a "great leader, inspiring confidence and credibility. One can see that she has a great team behind her, as her performance and dress are so well-constructed," she says. "The brand and platform of Clinton is one that oozes capability, with the right balance between assertiveness, humour and approachability."

Of course, a successful campaign does not a successful president make. While Obama is clearly a "good speaker", Rissen-Harrisberg believes he was at his best during the campaign when "he had youth on his side".

Now, after one of the most trying times in American history, she says "he’s looking a little worn-out and tired".

Out of the past South African presidents, the best speaker was Nelson Mandela, she says. "He had a unique and characteristic voice, mesmerising presence and projection of total integrity, conviction and honour when speaking. He was a true statesman with well-composed body language and the stature of a president."

Warm-up Voice Tips

1. Elevator Slides

Elevator Slides are a great way to work through your vocal registers and smooth out any breaks.

To do this exercise, you're going to make a noise similar to a long, slow siren. I recommend starting with an "ah" vowel and slowly ascend from low to high and back down again. Make sure you keep your throat relaxed and don't let your notes catch in your throat as you sing higher. This will happen if you don't move the resonance up into your head voice.

You can speed this exercise up as your voice gets warmer and switch the "ah" vowel to an "ee" and then "ooh," which work on a slightly different vocal placement each time.

2. The Lip Bubble

The Lip Bubble is a fantastic tool for not only warming your voice up quickly, but also for reducing vocal tension. It's very similar to blowing a raspberry like you may have done as a child. Here's how to get the lip bubble going:

Put your fingers into your cheeks near your lips on both sides of your mouth.
Relax your lips, jaw, and tongue.
Blow a raspberry without any sound until you can get that going consistently without breaking the flow of air.
Add an "ahhh" sound while you are doing the lip bubble.
Once you have that going nicely, you can use the Lip Bubble with any simple vocal exercise such as a major scale or arpeggio.

3. The Tongue Roll

Similarly to the Lip Bubble, the Tongue Roll is excellent for warming your voice up quickly and reducing vocal tension. The primary cause of vocal tension is your tongue, so it makes sense to practice rolling your Rs to keep your tongue loose and flexible. Practice rolling your Rs first and see if you can keep that consistent without breaking or spluttering for the length of one breath. Then add an "aah" sound to it.

While you're doing the tongue roll, do a simple vocal exercise like moving up and down three notes.

4. Vocal See-Saws

The other thing you want to include in your warm-up is an articulation exercise. Really get your mouth moving. Mumbling is a huge problem for many singers, and that is where Vocal See-Saws can help you.

Starting at the bottom of your vocal range, in one breath, sing up and back over a major scale or successive tones. Do this exercise with the words "doo bah," which gets your lips and jaw working.

5. Octave Jumps (for singers)

Your warm up needs to be about more than just vocalizing and relaxing. You want to also be working on your intonation and connecting to your breath, and Octave Jumps are a great way to do just that.

Keeping your notes staccato (short and detached), start from a low note in your vocal range and quickly switch between that note and the same note an octave above three times. Because you're keeping your notes short, your pitch accuracy may falter, so concentrate on hitting both notes straight on each time. Don't make the common mistake of falling flat on the top note or singing sharp on the bottom note. Then move this exercise up a note and repeat.

Ultimately, a warm-up should be as long or as short as it takes to get your voice to its peak performance level. I always test my voice by singing a range of songs that include my lowest notes right through to powerful belt notes. By doing that, you'll know if you need to spend some more time warming up or not. Just remember to stay hydrated and go easy at the beginning and build up to those belt notes. By the time you hit the stage, you'll be sounding great!

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