Celebrity voice coach Roger Love shares the keys that make your voice sound more engaging, authentic, confident, and powerful.
- Why you should put the music back into your speaking voice
- One big vocal mistake you might be making – and how to fix it
- How to modulate your voice to bring across a clearer message
Roger Love is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on voice. No other vocal coach in history has been more commercially successful in both the speaking and singing fields. Roger has vocally produced more than 150 million CD sales worldwide and written four top-selling books. Roger coaches singers such as Gwen Stefani, John Mayer, and Selena Gomez, as well as speakers like Anthony Robbins, and Simon Sinek. He also coaches screen personalities such as Bradley Cooper, Will Ferrell, Reese Witherspoon, Jeff Bridges, Angelina Jolie, and Joaquin Phoenix. Roger was the vocal coach to the mega-hit TV show GLEE, and vocal coached the Academy Award winning films, Walk The Line and Crazy Heart. Roger is the President of Voiceplace, an interactive media company that specializes in voice-related content for educational and entertainment purposes.
Items Mentioned in this Show:
- Career decision-making course: Do I Stay or Go
- Roger’s Vocal training system: The Perfect Voice
- Roger’s Website: RogerLove.com
- Book: The Missing Piece Meets the Big O by Shel Silverstein
Roger, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.
Good morning, Pete. How are you today?
Oh, I’m so good. I’m so good. How are you?
I’m excited about our interview and things that we’re going to discover and uncover.
Oh, me too. I think there’s going to be so much good stuff. You’ve made a huge impact on me and how I think about speaking, so it’s a delight to have you on for episode 300.
Thank you, yes. Well, to kick it off first of all, to the extent that you’re able to disclose, I think everyone loves a good sort of behind the scenes celebrity tale. You’ve worked with folks like Angelina Jolie, Selena Gomez, Tony Robbins. There’s a distinctive voice, Tony Robbins.
I’d love it if you could share kind of a fun story behind the scenes in terms of you’re doing some voice stuff with a famous person and how sometimes that unfolds in interesting ways.
Well, because I don’t kiss and tell, let me just redirect that question to sharing one of the insights that I’ve learned over the years by working gratefully with some of the most incredible talents in the world, in the movie business, and in the music business, and entrepreneurs, and in the financial markets.
When I work with these superstars, I just – when I started I was thinking, “Oh, they’re of course gods. They’re better than Greek gods because Greek gods, they’re so far away. Here they are walking down Hollywood Boulevard. Here they are in my studio.” These are gods that you can even get close to, but still gods.
As I started working with them more and more and more, I realized that we’re all the same, that these people that are applauded for being the greatest actors or the greatest singers or the greatest spokespeople, they’re normal, so normal just like all of us.
They’ve worked to fight against their normal tendencies of being lazy or being tired or sleeping in and they have found something about their own talent that they’ve honed and that’s great because they’ve worked their butts off. But the rest of them, the rest of their attributes, the rest of their thoughts, the rest of their feelings, it’s exactly the same as you and I.
The lesson isn’t what funny story do I have; the lesson is when you’re around someone who is a famous singer, you should realize it’s possible. You could be a famous singer. When you’re around someone who’s a bestselling author, you should realize, “Wow, somebody’s got to write those books,” might as well be you.
When you’re around all of these people that are at the top of the game, what I learned was to be empowered by their success and realize that somebody has to do it and maybe we’re next.
Okay, inspiring. Thank you. I’d love to dig into a bit of your wisdom when it comes to the voice and it’s impact and how to enhance it, so it’s all the better. Could you orient us a little bit? You say that sometimes it’s possible for a voice to ruin one’s life, what do you mean by that?
I mean that we think we’re the voice that we were born with and the sounds that are coming out of our mouths, well, those are the ones that Mother Nature gave us, so those are the ones we’re supposed to use. But the truth is as we are just imitating as we grow up the sounds of whoever was in the house and who we were listening to.
If my mother spoke really soft and airy, then I learn to speak really soft and airy. If my father spoke really nasal, “Hi Roger,” then I learned to speak really nasal. If my father or my nanny spoke really fast, then I imitated it and I learned to speak fast.
People find themselves adults with the voices that they have and they think, “Well, this is all I’ve got to communicate with,” but I start from ground zero. I say, “You weren’t born with that voice. Here’s what your voice could be.”
Here’s why you need to change it because those sounds that are coming out of your mouth, those sounds that kind of sound like your mother or kind of sound like your father or kind of sound like the nanny, those sounds may be not showcasing the best of who you are, how smart you are, how capable you are, how funny you are, how romantic you are.
It’s time to realize that we can create a new voice, which makes us influential, which makes people want to hear us, which makes people want to do business with us, which makes people want to be in relationships with us. We have a blank slate and now’s the time to figure out how we need to sound to actually have a better life.
Okay, that’s compelling. I’m really resonating with your take on the environment and how it shapes your voice. Just recently – we have a new baby. Yay!
Thank you. Go figure, we’ve been talking a lot quieter around the house. When babies are sleeping, you don’t want to interrupt it.
Then had a couple of buddies over – shout out to Luke and Ann, it was good to have you – we’re chatting and they were just chatting at sort of their normal friend volume in my living room and I was like, “Oh man, I kind of forgot.” I used to talk with them at this level all the time, but now I’m a little uncomfortable, like, “Guys, this is a little loud. The baby’s not too far away.”
There you have it. I’m being shaped right then and there with my environment, which can change as the context changes.
Exactly right. Look, how do we talk to dogs? I come home and I’m like, “Oh, Chichi, I love my little baby. How are you?” I raise my pitch as if I was eight years old. I talk to the dog in these, “Oh, you’re so beautiful,” like this. The dog responds, so how do I talk to the dog the next day? “Oh Chichi, you’re so beautiful.” Then we get into a pattern. I talk to the dog like that; the dog comes and licks my face.
Well, that’s what’s happening in life. We fall into these patterns of sounds coming out of our mouths and people reacting.
But what science has finally proven, and thank goodness because I’ve been saying this for about 40 years, science has finally proven that the only way that people believe you, like you, and want to spend time with you is based on the sound of your voice. It’s not the words you use. It’s not your facial expressions.
Science now proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that if you want to connect with people, if you want to be in a relationship with them, if you want to do business with them, if you want them to believe you, it’s the sound of your voice: the pitch, pace, tone, melody, and volume. Forget about the words. Forget about your arm gestures. Focus on the way that you sound.
Okay, I really want to dig into some of the particulars for what makes someone sound influential or what makes someone sound like someone they want to hear speak. But first maybe we’ll orient to a broader question, so you’ve got a program called The Perfect Voice, which I bought and liked. Could you sort of define what do you mean by a perfect voice?
A perfect voice is a voice that moves other people emotionally. The sounds that come out of you make people feel things because if they feel things, that’s how you become connected to them. A perfect voice is a voice that makes people feel things. A perfect voice is a voice that showcases the very best of who you actually are, authentically who you are.
Listen to your voicemail message and maybe yours is better than most people, but most people hate their voicemail message. That voice when you record it, you basically are settling with it. You record it over and over and over and you listen back and you’re like, “Ach, who is that person on the voicemail message?” You record it and you record it or you got a new phone and you do the same thing.
You end up settling with your voicemail message because you don’t like the sound of it and yet that’s the sound that everyone else is listening to. I say that the voice you’re using may be not showcasing the best of who you are. Perfect voice does that, moves people emotionally and it shows people how special you really are.
I want to hit a quick piece, which might be an objection for some listeners in terms of if you’re kind of deliberately using our voice in a way to make people feel things, is that considered potentially inauthentic.
I know actors do it all the time. That’s their job. You’re supposed to feel amused, entertained, this is kind of funny or sad, like, “Oh man, this is heavy.” If we’re doing that in our day-to-day lives is that like manipulative or icky or bad in some way?
That’s a fantastic question. Okay, to answer that, let me tell you a little bit how the brain works. When I speak to you, the sound goes into your ears and the first part of the brain that it gets to is called the amygdala. The amygdala is like this amazing receptionist that you have at your office.
The amygdala is only allowed to let one set of things through to get to the boss, to get to you, to get to the brain, the main part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex. Sound comes in and the amygdala listens to that sound and it decides whether it’s emotional or not.
Okay, so just binary. It’s either emotional or it’s emotionless.
It’s either emotional or it’s logical.
The first part of the brain, the amygdala, says, “Is this emotional?” If it is, it allows it to pass through and go to the prefrontal cortex, which is the hard drive of your brain where everything is stored, where everything is processed, where the brain can really think about it and make decisions based on it.
But it can’t get to the brain unless it passes through the amygdala. This whole idea of using words, logic, to try to get into someone’s brain so that they hear you and think about you and remember you, that’s all baloney now. Now the only way you can do it is if you can get in emotionally.
Okay, I’m with you there. It’s sort of like from the manipulation question there, it’s like you are either registering emotionally or you’re not and so it’s – I guess as I’m processing through this logically – I’m thinking it’s like well, is it – I guess it’s sort of like your intent and it’s sort of like what you’re doing with this tool that is your voice.
It’s like a sword. Are you using it for surgery or to lop off someone’s head? It’s a power that is entering your hands when you’re aware of it.
Here’s how you should think of it as not at all negative. An actor is playing a character so that character by nature is not authentic. That’s not who Bradley Cooper is when he’s playing this country singer in the new film coming out September 28th–
There you go.
-called A Star is Born. Bradley is playing a country singer, but we know he’s Bradley Cooper, so he’s acting. You’re equating that when someone is acting or trying to make you feel something that that’s not them.
But I’m explaining that I help people find their authentic selves, who they really are, what their core values are, what they really believe, what they want, what their dreams are, what they’re passions are. Then I help people voice those. I’m actually helping showcase who you really are. There’s no lies. There’s no manipulation. I’m giving people the opportunity to showcase the best of themselves and have people hear them that way.
How could there be any negative attached to that? I’m not doing brainwash. I’m helping each person find a voice that showcases how amazing they are and then authentically share that voice with everyone that they speak with.
Okay, I dig that and I’m feeling it. In some ways it is more authentic to have your voice reflect the emotions and your desires that are there.
I’ve had some clients who they’re interviewing for a job and then they didn’t get the job. They say, “What happened?” and then interviewer said, “Well, you didn’t really seem that into it.” It’s like, “I’m very much into it.” In a way having a little bit of voice training and attention would be more authentic. It’s like, “Oh, I can tell that you’re into it because your voice is conveying that.”
Absolutely. Absolutely. The goal is to have conversations where you’re open and honest and then the people talking to you feel comfortable because of your authenticity that they’re open and honest. Now you’re communicating on a much more beautiful, truthful, positive level.
Alright, I’m in. Now let’s dig into some of the how here. Specifically for folks who want to be awesome at their jobs, I think that sounding confident, sounding influential, sounding appealing, like, “Oh, I want to hear more from that person,” are things that we all want. How can we go make that happen?
What I learned early on was that there’s no difference between singing and speaking because I literally spent 17 years as a singing coach before I thought for a second that I wanted to work with anyone’s speaking voice.
When I was 16 and a half years old I was already the voice coach for the Beach Boys and the Jacksons and Chicago and Def Leppard and all of these incredible superstar singers and groups. I spent 17 years helping singers open up their mouths and make audiences feel things.
A great singer can make an audience get up and dance on their seats, can make an audience cry and remember the first time they had their heart broken or the first time they broke somebody else’s heart. A great singer I realized was an amazing storyteller.
It wasn’t until 17 years later that people like Tony Robbins and John Gray, and Suzie Orman, and those type of speakers started coming to me, these storytellers and I realized that if I taught them the same things that I was teaching my singers, that I could put the music back into their speaking voices. If I did that, they would have the same way of moving the hundreds of thousands and millions of people that they were just speaking to.
Literally I believe we were all born singing. I believe as babies, I came out and my first sound was this, “Whaaaa.” Long and loud and it was a big sustained note and I was doing great breathing or I wouldn’t have been able to cry that long. I think that was signing. I didn’t come out and do this, “Wha, wha, wha, wha, wha, wha.” I was singing, “Whaaaa, whaaaa, whaaaa, whaaaa.” Guess what that got me? It got me fed, got me kissed, got me snuggled. I was singing.
Now, as I grew up, I listened to all these people talking and they weren’t talking to me with melodies and volume and sustain. They were talking to me like this, “You good?” “Yeah.” “Good.” “Live? Breathing?” “Yeah, breathing.” They were talking to me in these short little tiny, unmusical phrases, the way that most people speak.
I’m standing behind people at the dry cleaners and I hear people talk like this, “Hey, how are you doing?” “Good.” “How are you doing?” “Great.” “What are you up to?” “Nothing.” “Okay, bye.” Then they get the dry cleaning and go out.
I’m like there’s nothing – that’s the most – I’m not even sure what language they were speaking. I think they were just mumbling nothingness. It had no life in it. It had no music.
Again, my job is to put the music back into your voice, which brings you back to what you were born with, which also makes everybody want to listen to the things that you say.
When people hang on the words that you say because you make them feel things, because you’re a great storyteller, then you always get the job, you always get the raise, you become the head of that company, you always get the gal, you always get the guy that you want because they want to hear you, because they look up to you, because they want to be you.
Okay, so bringing the music back, how do you do that in practice in terms if the voice is lacking in music and we want to insert the music, what are the key steps?
Awesome. Biggest thing that we do wrong as speakers is we think that we are one note on a piano instead of the fact that we are many, many notes on a piano.
If I think I’m one note on the piano, I talk like this, “Hey Pete, it’s great, great to see you. This is my one note. I stay here all the time. Yeah, I’m going to go out for lunch after this. Hope you have lunch too. This is my one note. Then sometimes I get really, really excited and maybe if I win the lottery, I’m like, ‘Whoa,’ and then I go back down to the one note. This is where I live.”
When most people record themselves and when they listen back, what they don’t know is they’re just using one note, like one little white or one little black note on a keyboard. That’s called monotone. When you use one note, guess what? You are boring, boring, boring, boring. No music in it, absolutely lifeless.
When you talk like this, people get bored with you after about two seconds and they think they know what you’re going to sound like. When they think they know what you’re going to sound like, they think they know what you’re going to say next. Then they just tune you out because they figure they are smarter than you and why waste their time listening to a piano that only has one note.
What we need to do is we need to have more melody. What do I mean by that? Just the same thing as a song. Songs aren’t one note. Songs go up. Now I’m going up. Higher, higher, higher, higher, higher. Now one word, then the next word’s higher, then the next word’s higher, and the next word’s higher. I’m either walking up the melody stairs.
Now I’m walking up, going from low notes to high notes or I’m walking down the melody scale. Now I’m walking down the melody scale, where I’m going from high notes to low notes. I’m either walking up. Now I’m walking up the melody scale, using different notes as if I was a piano. Now I’m going to come down. Now I’m coming down the melody scale, getting lower as I go.
You need to start realizing that unless you’re doing some walking up the steps or walking down the steps, you are monotone and you are boring the heck out of every single person you speak. If you’re monotone, you’re unemotional and they don’t care about what you say.
How simple is it to add melody? Do you have to be a singer to add melody? No. You have to first hear what I’m saying. This is a lot of melody, different notes as if I was a piano going from low to high, to low to high, to low to high, jumping around a little bit as opposed to just staying on one note all the time.
That’s why when I have people do warm up exercises, because in all of my programs I give people a daily warm up thing that they can do in the shower, they can do for ten minutes in the car ride on the way to work.
They basically listen and sing along with me sort of and they open up all of these different notes, all of these highs they didn’t know they had, all of these lows they didn’t know they had. I give people melody by helping them find that melody in the exercises.
Yes. They’re good and helpful and I’ve done them. What I really liked about it, as you were going up and down, there were – it didn’t seem silly. It wasn’t like a clown in any way.
It was sort of normal within the range of yes, this is how normal professionals might speak to one another in terms of we have multiple notes, but none of them are so crazy high and low, it’s like, “You’re weird, dude. What are you doing?”
Exactly right. What people don’t understand is that there is an emotion and a psychological understanding that comes along with certain melodies. Let me explain what I mean. If I go from high to low, you’re going to perceive sadness. “I really like dogs.” “I really like chocolate.”
What happened to the dog? Did it die?
Yeah. “I really like my wife.” “It’s okay you didn’t get me any presents. It’s my birthday.”
When you go from high to low, you’re making people sad because you sound sad. When you go from low to high, the subconscious thinks, “Boom, this is happy.” “I really love golf. I love chocolate. I love my wife. I love going to the supermarket. I love ice cream” When you go from low to high, it sounds happy. People want to be around happy people.
You don’t realize how much of the time the rest of the world is just going down and making people sad. “I just won the lottery.” “No, you didn’t.” “Oh, yes I did.”
You’re like, “Roger, I don’t go down.” I’m like, “Uh-huh, let me show you. I’ll bet a nickel on that.” Here’s where we were taught from grammar school to go down. We were taught that when we get to a comma or period, we’re supposed to go down. Sally saw the dog, comma, the dog didn’t eat Sally. Now we get to a period. Here comes a comma.
We were taught to actually go down when we get to a comma and period. We were only taught one place, only one little place we could go up, when we got to a question.
The exclamation point?
No, when we got to a question. “Do you like Sally?” “Do you want to eat green vegetables?” It was okay to go up if it was a question.
We learned to never go up if it wasn’t a question. Well, that is like telling Mozart that he can’t write melodies that go up. Mozart would say, “Heck with you,” and any other composer would say, “Heck with you.” Even from kids we’re taught to just go down at commas and periods.
What do I teach people do to? To go up at commas and periods. Now, I’m speaking and I get to a comma and then I jump back into the rest of my sentence. When I go up at the comma, it tells the person who’s listening that I’m not finished because I haven’t gone down and I’m able to keep their attention a lot longer because I haven’t gone down.
As soon as I go down, they’re like, “He’s done. What are we having for lunch?” Do you see the difference?
I do. Now, I’m a little concerned though because we have the up associated with a question mark, don’t you even call that up speak, if I do that, well I didn’t demonstrate it very well, but if you do that it can sound like a question even if it’s not and thus folks may interpret you’re not as confident and certain about that thing you just said.
Awesome. Fantastic comment. Up speak is a large interval from the syllable before the last to the last syllable. Up speak would be, “You like your dog?” “You like cats?” “You like yellow?” “Are you crazy?” What I’m asking people to do is to make the smallest interval possible when they go up.
Now I’m speaking to you and I went up but the amount I went up is so little that it doesn’t trigger that question mark in your mind. I’m also asking people just to stay on the same note and never go down. You have two options, stay on the same note when you get to a comma, that immediately eliminates up talk and don’t take gigantic, big interval jumps for the last.
“I love yellow.” No. It’s, “I love yellow.” “I love blue.” “I love green.” If you do small little notes, as if you are on a white key and then you just went to a black one, it doesn’t sound like you’re doing Valley talk or up talk. It just sounds like you have melody and nobody thinks that it’s a question.
Here’s another side. If you go up a little tiny bit when you get to a comma or a period like I just did, if the brain thinks it might be a question, then the listener calls themselves to attention. In other words if you’re talking to someone and your melody goes up just a little, they think you’re asking a question, so they listen harder in case they have to answer.
Actually you’re engaging your audience if you can a little bit make their brain think that maybe it was a question because if it was a question, they’ve got to get ready for an answer. Then they stay with you instead of drifting off into space because you’ve already put them to sleep.
Okay. That’s good. It’s sort of like when you’re in class from student days and somebody’s like, “Oh, what, oh.” It’s like, “Oh, I’m supposed to be paying attention now because that just happened.” I’m right with you there. There’s that scoop about having multiple notes and not just one. What are some other key things to vary in order to be engaging and influential?
Most people speak with what I call a squeaky hinge and they kind of talk like this, whereas you hear that little edge as if it was a door hinge that didn’t have enough WD-40 on it. It just ehh and then it closes ehh. That’s called a squeaky hinge as I just mentioned.
You’re like, “Roger, people don’t talk like that,” and I’m like, “Oh yes, they do.” Here’s where they do it. They start out a sentence with a certain amount of air and then they get to the end of the sentence and it trails off to that.
They start speaking and, “Hi, this is Roger Love.” They run out of air and then it goes to squeaky hinge. There’s no melody. There’s no volume. There’s no thickness in it.
It wastes the last words of every sentence you speak so that people are actually just hearing this, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got to tell you something amazing. You’ll never believe what happened to me. I just ehh.” “Come on over tonight. We’re having the most amazing dinner. I’ll be servicing ehh.” You waste it. It’s like they don’t even hear what the words are in the sentences.
I believe that that squeaky hinge is one of the worst sounds you can possibly make, gives you no power, no influence, no melody, makes you sound completely unmusical. Here’s how to fix it so that every word comes out, every word has a note, every word has some volume.
Most people are breathing with their stomach locked in one position. They take a breath – most people first start by raising their chest and shoulders. They raise their chest and shoulders and that’s called accessory breathing. Then when they’re talking, their shoulders kind of fall back down.
But we learned that you have to do a thing called diaphragmatic breathing, which means that you’re supposed to get more air into your lungs. The way you do that is by breathing in through your nose first because breathing in through the mouth makes your vocal cords and your mouth dry, but breathing in through the nose makes everything moist.
You breathe in through the nose. You do not raise your chest and shoulders and you pretend like you have a balloon in your tummy where your belly button is. I take a breath in through my nose and I let my stomach come forward a little as if I was a balloon and that’s where the air was going.
I breathe in through my nose, I let my stomach come forward and then when I speak my stomach slowly comes in like an accelerator pedal on a car, which helps the car go faster or slower. My stomach coming out and then coming back in helps regulate how air gets pushed out of my mouth.
Most people’s stomachs are stationary. When their stomachs are stationary, they’re actually holding their breath when they talk. It’s like you’re at the bottom of a mountain, you’re driving a car and you don’t have your foot on the accelerator pedal, so you’re just stuck at the bottom of the mountain because the car won’t go up.
I teach people to breathe through their nose, pretend they have a balloon in their stomachs, then only speak while their stomach is coming back in. That sends the right amount of air to the vocal cords, the right amount of air out of the mouth. It not only fixes the squeaky hinge sounds, but it gives you more volume and more melody and more tone quality. It stops you from being nasal as well.
And you can sustain it longer as opposed to I’m out of breath from the shallow long accessory place as opposed to going for the longer stretches deep down in the diaphragm.
Exactly right. I’m saying it’s fine to take breaths, but you’re wasting most of the air because you’re not actually getting your lungs filled with air. The only way to do that is to do diaphragmatic breathing, stop raising your chest and shoulders and that changes the way air comes in, but it also makes your voice a million times better.
Excellent. Thank you. Can you talk a little bit about the volume and pacing considerations? You talked about the message that you send when you’re going down or you’re going up. I’d like to get your take, what message does it send when you’re operating at a high versus low volume as well as when you’re operating at a fast versus slow pace?
Perfect. Most people have equated volume with anger. If you come to me and I’m your psychologist, you’ve come to me for counseling and I’m like, “Pete, you really have to stop eating chocolate because chocolate is blah, blah, blah.” I talk really airy and soft. I’m just trying to make you think that I’m here for you and that I’m a good listener and that there’s no anger or I’m not judging you so I have this really soft voice.
The problem is is that – and if I get louder, “Pete, I said don’t eat chocolate.” You’re like, “Roger, I’m sorry. What are you so mad at? Chocolate tastes good.” We equate volume with anger, so people don’t speak that loudly because they’re afraid of sounding like they’re angry all the time. When they do speak louder, people are like, “Hey, are you mad at me?” or, “Stop yelling at me,” so the other people are afraid of them.
Here’s what I want to teach. We don’t speak loudly enough. We need to make the sound come out of our mouths and go far enough away from our mouths that that sound actually vibrates the bodies of the people we’re talking to. This is all scientifically proven.
It isn’t just me trying to get my sound in their ears. I’m trying to make a sound and have sound come out of my mouth in the form of invisible sound waves and have those sound waves vibrate the bodies of the people that you’re talking to.
I can’t do that at this volume here where it’s like I’m just talking to myself because the sound doesn’t come out far enough from me to vibrate anybody, to connect with anyone, and to make anyone feel that vibration. I say people need to speak louder.
Here’s what I’m going to add to volume so that no one thinks you’re angry. If you add melody to volume, it defuses all sounds of anger. If I say, “Don’t eat the chocolate,” sounds angry. No melody. Monotone. One note. But if I say, “Pete, don’t eat the chocolate. Don’t eat the chocolate. We’ll find something else. Let’s go eat carrots. You don’t need to eat the chocolate,” it immediately diffuses.
I’m not mad because if I have melody, all the volume in the world doesn’t make me sound like I’m a mean, angry ogre.
Right, like an opera singer doesn’t sound angry. They sound any number of emotions.
Yeah. I’m saying be louder because you want to connect with people and you want to vibrate their bodies, but you have to add melody. You’ve got to be walking up the steps. You’ve got to not be doing all of the squeaky hinge. Volume is super important or you’re actually making people think that you’re talking to yourself instead of talking to them.
Pete, I say that the voice is not for you. Your voice is a gift that you’re supposed to give away. How do I know that? Because I can close my mouth and talk to myself all I want without making any noise. I can talk to myself internally. That’s my internal voice.
But when I open my mouth, what happens to the sound? It goes away from me. It’s not for me. If it was my gift, it was coming towards me. The sound actually goes away. I say it’s a gift. Wrap it up nicely, make it have some volume, put a bow on it, which is melody, and give it away instead of holding it inside. When you want to talk to yourself, close your mouth and talk all you want.
All right. I’m sold. That’s a good point there with volume that you can bring it and not be angry if there’s some melody in the mix. I also want to hear your take on pacing, times that we go faster or slower.
Great. When people speak really slowly, the listener believes that that person’s brain is not running at full capacity because the slowness of it makes the other person listening subconsciously feel that that person is actually less intelligent because they’re not sure of what they want to say and the words are not streaming out.
When you speak too slowly, you run the risk of other people, not only being bored as heck because they don’t have all day for you to get to the ends of your sentences, but they actually think you’re less intelligent.
Also, when you speak really slowly to someone, they’re thinking that you think they’re stupid, like, “I said two plus two isn’t six,” and you’re like, “Yeah, I know it’s not six.” “Okay, I’m going to say this slowly because you’re a dumb-dumb and I’m really going to explain this.” When you talk slowly to people, it also gives them the feeling that you don’t trust in their intelligence.
It makes you seem kind of dumb and it puts the perception on them that you think that they’re not smart enough to follow along with you at a good pace.
On the contrary, when you speak really, really fast, the subconscious of the listener thinks that you’re hiding things because when you speak really, really fast like that it’s like you’re hiding words and you can’t catch all the words.
It’s almost like a car salesman who somehow always manages to get me to sign to pay extra for black cars when I don’t know why I should pay extra for black cars, but I didn’t stop him in the middle of a sentence because I didn’t want him to think that I was a dummy.
When you speak fast, you make the impression that you’re trying to sell someone something they feel like you’re hiding something in all those words. Plus, when you speak fast, they’re so busy trying to just figure out what word you said after the other, after the other because there’s so many words that they don’t ever have a chance to jump in and say what they think.
They also feel left out when you talk really, really fast because there’s no place for them to insert how they feel back. They feel it’s a one-sided conversation with a salesman who’s hiding something.
Okay, not good, not good. I’m hearing that it’s about being not too slow and not too fast. Then within that is there a benefit to really having some variety between moderately slow and moderately fast and do you have even a words per minute number in mind?
What I do is you’re not supposed to always speak at one pace. When you’re sad, every moment feels painful because of a loss and you speak slower and that slowness is associated with sorrow and negative things.
But happiness is associated with your pulse got elevated and you really did win the lottery, so when you’re happy or talking about happy things, you’re supposed to speak faster. When you’re sad, you’re supposed to speak lower.
When you’re grateful, you want that moment to last forever, so the pace changes again when you’re grateful. You hold out the word so much longer because you want to stay in this grateful place forever.
What I’m saying is I literally in all of the things that I teach, I say, “Okay, here, you want to be a great storyteller. This part of the story is all of these happy, wonderful, amazing things, so you’re going to speak a little faster when you’re talking through this part of the story. Here, this part of the story is sadder, and I want you to slow down.”
I literally help people figure out how to be great storytellers by unconsciously – by being unconsciously competent and mixing up all of it. There isn’t one melody that’s perfect all the time. There isn’t one pacing that’s popular all the time. There isn’t one volume that’s all the time.
It’s getting to know your voice like an instrument so that when you’re happy, you have the volume and you have the ability to speak faster, and you have all the highs and the lows, which you need for beautiful melodies and sad melodies. It literally is about learning how to train your voice like an instrument and then your voice will give you subconsciously the right sounds when you speak.
I really dig that. I’m thinking now, I can’t help but do so. We’re on a podcast and often my voice is being recorded on the podcast.
I think frequently sometimes I think, “Oh, I talk to fast.” But at the same time it’s like, well, I’m just so excited about the really cool stuff we’re discovering. It is natural fast-action stuff. Then occasionally it will slow down and I think that’s often when it’s in the worlds in which it’s like, “Whoa, you just said something that was profound and is worth a greater level of thought.” I think that’s just right to be speaking fast a lot because I’m excited a lot.
I love it and you’re good at that. I hear the variety. Here’s a really simple way to fix whether you’re speaking too fast or too slowly.
Most people don’t put enough commas in their sentences. When they get to a comma, they don’t take a big enough breath and they don’t leave enough silence in that comma.
Remember when a composer writes music, they not only write the notes in, but they write the rests in as well. They write where they want the music to be silent. So “Bah, bah, bah, bam, bah, bah, bah, bam, bah, bah, bah, bam,” is different than “Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba,” right? The silent places are just as important.
Why? Because when you speak and you get to a comma and you’re silent, the listeners have a chance to process what you just said. Because most people don’t wait long enough in the silence of the pauses and they just jump in to the next part of the sentence and then they jump into the next part of the sentence.
Or they do something even worse, they get to where they’re supposed to put a comma and instead of being silent, they do “Um,” or they put a, “Like,” or, “Uh,” and there’s still noise, so the person can’t think about what you just said.
The power of the pause, the power of silence allows the person to process what you just said and feel something. If you speak fast but still get to the commas and leave a little extra time, they still have enough time to process what you said. Let me show you.
“I really yellow because yellow is just the color of sunflowers.” “I really like red because red is the color of the new sports car I want.” It’s that people speak fast don’t stop at the commas and then jump right back into the sentence, that’s what’s screwing them up.
If I would have said, “I really like yellow because is the color of sunflowers and I really like red because red is the color of the new sports car I want to buy,” you don’t know whether you’re still – I’m trying to still – you’re thinking, “Sunflower, did he say sunflower? Red, did he say red? Did he say he already bought the car? Did he say he’s going to buy it? I don’t know. There’s too much to think about.”
But I did the same speed once I took a comma, “I really like yellow because yellow is the color of sunflowers. And I really like red because red is the color of the next sports car that I’m going to buy,” so add more commas. Even if you speak too fast or too slow, it kind of levels it all out so they still get the chance to hear and think about what you said, process what you said and feel something by it.
Roger, that’s great stuff. Tell me, is there anything else you really want to make sure to emphasize before we shift gears and hear rapid fire about some of your favorite things?
I just want people to realize that they’ve thought about so many other things. They keep going to the gym to become more attractive or losing weight. They keep changing their hairstyle. They keep buying new clothes. They keep going to seminars to learn better words or how to be more organized.
What they put at the end of the list is the sound of their voice because the sounds of their voices make them sound smarter than any book. The sounds of their voices make them sound more beautiful than any new hairstyle. The sound of their voices make them sound more intelligent than any new planner that they got.
My advice at this point in the conversation is for people to realize that voice is the secret weapon.
And doctors and dentists who don’t understand bedside manner because they haven’t found the right voice. Lawyers that are not winning their cases because they haven’t found the right voice to influence the judge and the jury.
People that are alone in their lives because they haven’t found voices that actually show them to be honest, and authentic and romantic and loving and caring and that their voices are stopping people from loving them and wanting to be in relationships with them.
That it’s time that we thought about voice as the number one most powerful communication tool you have and put all the rest of the stuff in B, C, and D levels behind thinking is my voice actually ruining my life.
Beautiful. Thank you. Well, now could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?
What you focus on, you find and you how you sound is how people perceive you.
All right, thank you. How about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?
Some of my absolutely favorite research happened within the last six months. They discovered that people lie with their facial expressions because if you’re sad, you can still put a smile on your face and talk to someone and pretend that you’re happy.
Now all of the studies say that physiology doesn’t matter unless you’re doing diaphragmatic breathing and using your body like a power plant, like an engine to make better sound. Now that the words fall almost into fourth position behind the sound of your voice, the sound of your voice, the sound of your voice, and then maybe some words.
Okay, thank you. How about a favorite book?
Wow, my favorite book of all time is called The Missing Piece and the Big O. It’s a Shel Silverstein book. It’s about a wedge, actually a shape, who wants to fit in.
Good. Thank you. How about a favorite tool, something that helps you be awesome at your job?
I think one of the most amazing tools we all have is our smartphones because I force people to record themselves speaking every week, so that we can once and for all hear the way we sound then start to make some changes so that we hear ourselves better and feel better about ourselves and other people hear us better.
Beautiful. How about a favorite habit?
Exercising when you don’t want to.
Okay, good. Is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks as you’re teaching this stuff?
That there’s no difference between speaking and singing. And that the people who are the most influential people in the world and the people who are making a difference are the storytellers, those people that are making sounds, talking through stories and making people feel things.
If you want to be influential, powerful, if you want to live up to your greatest potential, become a storyteller and let people be moved by the stories that come out of your mouth.
Okay. If folks want to learn more or get in touch with you, where would you point them?
I’d point them to RogerLove, R-O-G-E-R-L-O-V-E, .com. We have free videos for you, tons of free content if you want to learn how to speak better, which you do, or if you want to learn how to sing better.
And do you have a final challenge or a call to action you’d issue to folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?
Make everyone at your job, especially the people above you position-wise, want to be more like you. If you sound happy, having a lot of melody, using volume, the people around you are like, “Wow, Pete, you’re so happy. Maybe I should be happier.” If you sound grateful, holding out the words, having a little bit more air when you’re supposed to, then the people around you think, “Wow, Pete’s so grateful. I should be more grateful.”
They think, “Pete is just so happy and so grateful and he makes me feel things. I want to be more like Pete.” You’ll be amazed at how much success you have in every aspect of your life when people want to be around you, they want to listen to you, and they want to be more like you.
Perfect. Well, Roger, thank you so much for taking this time. This has been a whole lot of fun. I wish you all the luck and success as you are transforming the world and these voices in it.
Pete, thank you so much for allowing me to spend time with you and great success to you and all of the things that you are doing to make the world sound better and think better, and be more successful.