Voicework by Edith Poor

By examining traditional attitudes about women’s and men’s voices—attitudes that have shaped the history of public speaking and continue to shape every speaker to the present day—Voicework reveals the “manly” style of public speaking at work in us all. Edith Poor’s brief, powerful commentary offers insights that will be invaluable to all public speakers.

  • ISBN: 0-9674477-1-2
  • Price: $6.00 (paper)

Read an Excerpt

Her manager briefed me in person. He wanted to make sure that I knew what I would be encountering when I coached one of his top people. "She needs lots of work," he said. "But the most important thing is her voice. She sounds so immature, so girlish. No one will take her seriously if she continues to use that speaking voice. It’s so high-pitched, so sing-songy. And the giggle has to go. She sounds tense and ill at ease. It’s simply a question of credibility, and she’s got to understand that." "Have you talked to her about this?" I asked him. He shook his head. "It’s difficult . . . it’s so personal. I thought it would be more effective if you did it. I thought it would be better coming from a woman." (Why did he feel this way? Why is this topic so loaded?) He continued, "It’s not so bad one-on-one, but whenever she’s talking to a group of people — and especially when she has to stand up to make a presentation — it’s impossible to listen to her. She’s assuming greater responsibility, she’s being groomed for a key role on the leadership team. She won’t be able to succeed unless she tackles this. Do whatever it takes. You must have done this thousands of times. . . . Surely there are some exercises for this sort of thing." I’m not sure there are. Or rather, I’m not convinced that we have enough understanding about "this sort of thing" to know what kind of voicework will be most effective. What I do know is this. Women’s voices are different from men’s and sound different from men’s. Beyond the differences in physiology, there’s another factor at work: ancient, elusive attitudes about women’s voices and men’s voices; attitudes that we need to explore before we can understand voicework. This book explores some of these attitudes.

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