A man stands up and presents to his coworkers, who sit at a table around him

From realtors to baristas and everyone in between, speaking to be heard is an essential skill for professional success. Voice Coach Jocelyn Rasmussen shares her insights and experience on developing your voice at work.

Whether you’re looking to improve your interpersonal communication, lead presentations with confidence or perfect your sales pitch, learning how to harness your voice is an essential skill.

And according to speaking and singing coach Jocelyn Rasmussen, your voice is likely also the most undervalued tool in your professional development kit.

Your Voice is One of Your Most Essential,Yet Undervalued, Professional Tools

“On the whole, we have yet to fully recognize the power of our voice,” she says. “We’ve recognized that fitness is important, but the speaking voice is in disrepair. We need to get to a place where we respect and understand how the voice plays a role in our lives.”

Jocelyn speaks from experience. For over 20 years, she has coached business people, artists, leaders, students and people from all walks of life to overcome common vocal blocks and issues. Through engaging students around the world in private lessons, workshops, master classes, seminars, retreats, and remote sessions, Jocelyn has helped students transform their voices and their lives.

1. Your Voice is a Vessel for Your Messages – Not Just Your Words

While we may have spent a lot of time developing our professional language, when we’re communicating those carefully crafted words out loud, the tone we frame them in is seen as carrying their true meaning.

Vocal elements like tone and inflection can be the most powerful elements of oral communication, while our actual words may account for only a small percent of our message.

“Your voice has a full range of expression,” says Jocelyn. “The goal is that it conveys excitement to people when you need them to be energized about an idea, or that it can help calm people down when a situation is getting too tense. You want to be able to inspire people in a boardroom.”

Quote from Jocelyn Rasmussen says "Your voice is a valbe between your heart and your head."2. How People Respond is a Signal to Whether or Not They Received Your Intended Message

It can be a baffling if not downright frustrating situation when the messages we attempt to send are misinterpreted or not taken seriously.

According to Jocelyn, identifying what is holding us back can be a process of trial and error. While we may suspect that certain traits are to blame (e.g. a naturally higher-pitched voice may be interpreted as lacking authority) – others are harder to discern, but can be uncovered with a little help.

“Sometimes people let us know,” says Jocelyn, adding that sometimes the message is revealed through behavior. “When you speak, do your employees become afraid and go quiet? Or do they keep laughing and talking when you enter? Do you have a professional relationship that is real or one that is very ‘cut and dry’ where people are shutting you off from their lives?

3. Vocal Coaches Can Provide Safe Feedback on What Your Voice Conveys

If you’re getting a poor response to your speaking voice and don’t understand why, having someone you trust, like a vocal coach, give you guidance can help.

“I had a gentleman come in for coaching because he didn’t understand why people walked away from him while he was speaking,” she says. “But what was evident when he spoke, is that he didn’t have any rhythmic variation in his voice. He spoke in a very flat, low manner without regular punctuation or inflection. It just came out as a stream of words, and people were letting him ‘know’ that his communication style didn’t work by simply walking away from him.

4. If You Change Your Voice, Only Change it in a Way that Reveals Your Authentic Self

“Your voice is a valve between your heart and your head,” explains Jocelyn. “And we have many cultural expressions that reflect that. We say that we ‘choke on our anger,’ get a ‘lump in our throat,’ or even ‘swallow our pride.’ “

The key to making modifications to the voice is to do so with a goal of revealing your authentic self, instead of disguising it. Your heart and head should align.

“I had a student come in wishing to deepen his voice because he was regularly mistaken for being a woman over the phone. People would address him as ‘ma’am.’ He also felt that this held him back at work where his ideas weren’t being used.

Quote from Jocelyn Rasmussen says "We have yet to fully recognize the power of our voice."5. Improving Your Voice Changes Your Brain Chemistry and Boosts Confidence

“Self-esteem, confidence and sense of personal power, are improvements that I see in students as they learn how to control their voice,” says Jocelyn. “These are huge shifts – and it makes sense as to why. Changing the voice stimulates your brain and actually shifts your neurochemistry.”

Listen to Jocelyn on the Sound Stories Podcast as she shares more stories about her students and insights on the world of coaching.

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