Every guy has his own ideas about what it means to be a man. For some, it’s all about being confident in who you are. For others, it’s about, how they act and present themselves to the rest of the world. For instance, the first impression they make on the phone. And for many guys, their voice can be a source of insecurity if it’s not as deep or “manly” as they think it should be.
Does a deep voice really make you more of a man?
“A deep voice is commonly associated with manliness and being male and, until recently, the majority of marketing from a male perspective has relied on the depiction of the male voice as being deeper in pitch,” says Vinny Raval, a speech and language therapist, and director at The Speech Coach. “Accordingly, men wish to fit the ‘norm’ or the ‘stereotype’ and sound like men, with a higher pitched voice being mostly associated with being increasingly feminine.”
Of course, this stance relies on an internal logic that assumes it is “good” to be considered masculine, and that having a voice which is interpreted to be feminine—or, by extension, gay—is an inherently negative thing. This attitude persists, even in our supposedly progressive society.
The 2014 documentary Do I Sound Gay? explored the degrees to which a higher-pitched or so-called effeminate voice can have on a man’s perception of his own masculinity, and highlighted that even out-and-proud gay and bisexual men can struggle with this. This is sometimes due to internalized homophobia or misogyny (“femme” = “bad”) which is fueled by the media and information about gender roles we grow up consuming.
“Due to societal stereotypes, men feel like men when they speak with a deeper voice,” says Raval. “A deeper voice is also associated with control and sincerity, again aspects that one associates in a biased manner with male characteristics.”
There is, of course, another reason why a man might want to change the way he speaks: studies have shown that women tend to be more attracted to men with deeper voices (quite possibly for the same outdated-but-prevailing reasons).
What can I do to make my voice deeper?
While it is impossible to permanently change your voice without medical intervention, there are a range of exercises that men can practice in order to speak with a deeper pitch, although their implementation is dependent on the individual and their specific goals. Raval advises that anyone looking to recalibrate their tone or vocal register should first seek the guidance of a speech therapist or voice coach, in order to avoid accidentally damaging the vocal folds.
It’s possible that the way you usually breathe is having an impact on the way your voice sounds. Try inhaling deeply through your nose, bringing the air all the way in and as far down as possible; then, while exhaling slowly, say something. You should feel a vibration as you speak. This technique—popular among singers and actors—might be able to help you control the pitch of your voice.
We’ve all, at some point, idly blown bubbles through a straw into a soda or milkshake. Turns out, this is a widely used “reset” for the voice. According to the National Center for Voice and Speech, the straw technique stretches and relaxes the vocal cords. It can help make your voice stronger, and make it less likely to go hoarse or raspy.
Yawning and sighing.
Speaking in a breathier, aspirated way, as if through a sigh, can help to bring down the pitch of your voice. After a long yawn, you can use the voiced sigh to go down through the scales to a lower tone. An advantage here is that husky, breathy voices are considered among the sexiest in men.
When you hum, you’re warming up your voice, which can give you a greater level of control over it. Try taking a deep breath and then hum for as long as possible, once again going down the scales to find a lower tone.
There are three kinds of inflection; upward, neutral, and downward. Neutral inflection results in a robotic, monotonous way of speaking, while upward inflection can make every sentence sound like a question. Aiming for downward inflection, on the other hand, can make your voice sound deeper as you’re ending the sentence at a lower pitch.
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