Wipe That Smile Off Your Face

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on November 14, 2011

Have you ever been told to smile while you’re at the mic because it will make you sound friendlier and more conversational?  Bad advice. Smiling is actually one of the worst things you can do if you want a full, rich voice. Let me explain.

The voice quality that can make our voices sound lower in pitch and richer is called “resonance.” Resonance is what happens to our vocal sound waves after they leave the vocal folds (cords). The air cavities that the sound waves move through either enhance the lower frequencies or reduce them.

There are several physics principles that apply to vocal resonance, but the only one we need to consider now is that the smaller the opening of a cavity the more it enhances lower frequencies. Think of a big smile.  It produces a wide opening of the mouth, doesn’t it?  That smiling can make your voice sound higher in pitch and thinner because it reduces some of the lower frequencies.

It’s not by accident that most beauty queens have high pitched voices. Their big, toothy smiles on stage are making that happen.  If you want your voice to sound lower and richer, lose the smile when you’re at the microphone. You’ll hear a difference.

Check out my mp3 on Resonance if you want to learn more about it.  There are also some great exercises on there to improve resonance. While you’re there, download the FREE mp3 on vocal health!

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