Many years ago when I first started my business, I had a most eye-opening experience that I will never forget. It happened on a consecutive Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, I had been working with a group from Nortel in voice and presentation skills. One of the men from the group told me that, in the previous week, he had found others listening to him. That had never happened before. Appropriately for Jim, whenever he was in conference, everyone talked over him.
The next day I had a private client by the name of Marie. Marie told me that during the previous weekend, she had had her family over for dinner and she held the topic of conversation at the table. In Marie's case, that had never happened before because she admitted to me that in the past, her family had always talked over her.
What was wonderful to see in both cases was that Jim's and Marie's self-confidence had increased tenfold just by increasing their volume of sound. This was a new experience for me as my prior experience had been teaching voice to broadcast journalism students. They came in with big egos and big voices. Being soft-spoken was not an issue.
The discovery for me was that those who are soft-spoken often think they are being talked over or interrupted because what they are saying is of no value when in fact, that is not the case. If you are soft-spoken, you are being talked over because those of us with larger voices tire of training to hear you, tire of asking you to repeat yourself. And we will take over the conversation.
My work with the soft-spoken voice increased dramatically after that Monday and Tuesday because I discovered that the voice which is difficult to hear is not a strength but a weakness and that those who are afflicted by this lack of volume often have lower self-esteem and lower self-confidence.
The ability to speak in a normal level of sound is possible for every single person. If you are soft-spoken, however, the difficulty will be in accepting that your increase in volume is not too loud.
Of the 1,000's of people with whom I have worked, every single one who has been soft-spoken thought they were shouting when I asked them to increase their volume. When I played back their video, however, each one was surprised because they expected their recording to be too loud when indeed they discovered it was a normal level of sound.
This is the tricky part if you want to learn how to increase your volume properly. When I teach people how to find their 'real' voice, their inner ear loves their new sound. When I teach the soft-spoken how to increase their volume, their inner ear revolts. Your inner ear is very comfortable with your soft voice. Increase the volume and it will not like it. This is where recording yourself and playing it back can be so beneficial. It is only when you hear it in a recording, comparing it to other people's volume, that you can retrain your inner ear to accept your increase in sound.
Is learning how to speak in a normal volume of sound worthwhile? Only if you want others to hear what you have to say!