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Listen to Yourself—Often

The first step to a powerful voice is getting to know yours. That's not as silly as it sounds. You may think you know your voice; after all, you're always speaking to people at work, at home, and on the phone. But in those instances you're listening to them, not to yourself.

Getting your voice ready for a speech means listening to the way you start sentences, form vowels, and pause after periods. You should practice speaking aloud often. Use your own words, the newspaper, anything. Read to the kids, to the dog; recite in the shower. Develop a love for good speech; listen to audiocassettes of powerful speakers reading book excerpts. Listen to how classically trained actors such as James Earl Jones or Meryl Streep use their voices, as instruments of feeling.

Look in the mirror to see how you are making the sounds. Make a habit of speaking aloud to yourself every day. Use a tape recorder and the exercises in this chapter and listen to your progress. Evaluate yourself often; use the form at the end of this chapter. Once you have started to listen to your voice objectively, you're ready to tackle the fine points of controlling it.


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