Updated: Feb 2
"People who have deeper voices seem to speak with more authority, more influence, more confidence" is what a recent client of mine asserted.
And she's not alone...
Tina Dietz of Forbes wrote that, "CEOs with lower voices had longer tenure, led larger companies, and made more money — to the tune of $180K+ per year." according to research of 792 male CEO voices.
So, that's that then, right?
Which means that if you can learn how to make your voice deeper, you'll win more contracts, get that promotion, and get people hanging on to your every word.
Well, I'm not convinced...
I've been coaching for over 12 years and it is NEVER this simple.
A 'deep voice' without clarity of speech, an ability to express ones thoughts and ideas, and a physical presence is just a 'deep voice'. And that alone isn't going to get you anywhere, professionally or socially.
But assuming that these other attributes are in place, let's get to the bottom of what a 'deep voice' might be and how you might get one.
Get Thicker, Looser, Longer Vocal Folds
Think of the strings of a guitar in a conventional tuning.
The first string is low E and the last string is high E, (they are an octave apart).
The first string is much thicker than the top string and this is part of what makes the pitch lower.
It's the same with your vocal folds. The thicker (and looser they are) the lower the pitch.
If you were to tighten any one of the strings of a guitar, they would go up in pitch. And vice versa.
Equally, if you put your finger high up on the fret board (which essentially shortens the length of the string between your finger and the bridge of a guitar) the pitch would go up. If you were to let go again, the length would then be longer and the pitch would be lower.
It's the same for the vocal folds.
So, I guess the question is...
How Do You Get Thicker, Longer And Looser Vocal Folds?
Firstly, our voices are unique for all sorts of reasons and so the natural length, thickness and looseness of the vocal folds is innate.
But, (and it's a big 'but') there are many things that can influence your vocal folds which might be getting in the way of your voice being deeper and more resonant:
Hydration - the vocal folds need a certain level of lubrication to help them do their job effectively. So keeping hydrated is important, not least of all for your general health but also evidently for your vocal fold function. In the UK the NHS recommends six to eight glasses of water (1.2 litres) a day. There are also other things that can dehydrate the body: certain medication and diuretics (caffeinated drinks, alcohol).
Environment - For a lot of people, air quality can really affect the vocal folds. Things like air conditioning, dust and air pollution, even deodorant aerosols and hairsprays. These things may not affect you. And even if they do, there may be nothing major that you can change about your environment, but any small changes might help your voice.
Acid Reflux - this is where acid from the stomach travels up through the oesophagus into the throat. For some, this can irritate the vocal folds and lead to other conditions. This is a big subject, one that I won't dive into now. But things like stress and certain foods and drinks have been linked to acid reflux and many strategies for reducing it (see this article) but something simple to start with is to put at least 2 hours between eating and laying down (either on a sofa or going to bed).
Posture - the alignment of your spine is important for a number of reasons, and misalignment can really affect your breath and muscles around your larynx which in turn might affect your vocal folds. There are all sorts of practices that can help you with alignment, a couple of which I'll list in a moment, but you may want to consider simple things like how you sit when working at a computer or in a meeting or when eating, how you stand when waiting for something/someone and maybe even whether your shoes are affecting your posture (here are some practices: Feldenkrais Technique, Alexander Technique).
Unwanted Physical Tension - In some ways this is linked to posture, but it's fair to say - because every part of the body communicates with one another - that unwanted physical tension of any kind can affect the functioning of your vocal folds. But unwanted tension around the jaw, tongue, neck and shoulders in particular would be very beneficial to release. There are many ways you can do this and practices like the ones mentioned above that can really help, but other than voice coaching, a vocal physiotherapist specialises in releasing tension in these areas.