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How to Improve the Pitch and Quality of Your Voice

January 2, 2020

When individuals judge their voice, they are usually commenting on the quality of their pitch. Learning to speak in your optimal pitch range is important for presenting with strong, rich tones that are aesthetically pleasing to your listener.

To strengthen your awareness, describe your pitch and voice quality.

Voice therapists describe two different types of pitch, habitual and optimal.
  • Habitual pitch is your regular and consistent tone of voice.  It is the pitch you use automatically or “habitually” for speaking, but it may not necessarily be your best vocal quality.
  • Optimal pitch produces a rich and pure tone where the muscles of the vocal mechanism function at their best to produce an ideal quality voice with natural projection. Speaking in your optimal pitch range would be preferred for professional speech and voice since that is where the most vibrant tones are produced.
If there is a significant gap between your habitual pitch and optimal vocal pitch, it is most likely due to the fact that you find it easier and more comfortable speaking with your habitual pitch range.  This is the pitch level most people use automatically without ever thinking about it.  Many speakers with a high, thin or nasal sounding pitch are speaking from their habitual pitch range.  Learning to speak from your optimal pitch level is an easy adjustment to make and the benefits will significantly improve your voice quality and professional image.

How to Find Your Optimal Pitch Range

The “Uh-Huh” Trick
Say, “Uh-Huh.” Move the vocal pitch down  when you say it. To find your optimal range be certain to produce the “Uh-“ from the mid-range of your voice and then produce “Huh-“ at a lower range of your voice.  Do this three times to get a sense of this voice placement.  Think about where your mid-range voice is located.  If you say, “Uh-Huh” in too high of a pitch, then you will not find your optimal pitch range. When you are saying the word, “Uh-Huh,” from the mid-range of your voice, you are producing your optimal pitch range.  It is important to begin voicing at your mid-range.  The “Uh” is the upper limit for optimal vocal pitch and the “Huh” is the lower limit for this range.  The range may seem small to you. It is about a four to five note range. Be aware that this is only a range and it should fluctuate.  If you begin your statements, from the mid-range of your voice you will be speaking in your optimal pitch range. If you feel that you are beginning your statements too high in pitch, ask yourself if you are speaking in too high of a voice register and then find your optimal pitch for comparison.
The key is to speak comfortably within your optimal pitch range on a consistent basis.  A vibrant voice with good tone quality will come from the “Uh-Huh” range.  When individuals speak above their optimal pitch limit, the result is a voice with a higher pitch, thinner sounding tone and more nasal resonance which can be unpleasant for the listener.  Speaking from your optimal pitch will allow you to produce a rich tone quality with natural projection that will give you command of your voice to persuade, lead and radiate confidence.

Practicing Your Optimal Pitch Range

Using Single Words
Begin practice with producing single words in your optimal pitch range.
  • With a full breath from your diaphragm, count aloud:
    • Uh-Huh one, Uh-Huh two, Uh-Huh three… until 10.Move each syllable down the speech stairs and listen to the tone. Get a sense of what this “feels” like.
  • Produce the words below in your pitch range. Select a word and insert it into the “Uh-Huh,” counting pattern.
    • Example: Right-one, Right-two, Right-three… until 10
Hello       No       Monopoly       Experiment
Right       Run       Minnesota       Refrigerator

How to Quickly Find Your Optimal Vocal Pitch Range if You Lost It
Producing the sound, “Ummm-Hmmm,” has the same affect for finding your ideal voice as the “Uh-Huh” trick. This is another quick and subtle technique for finding your optimal pitch range before you begin talking. If you are speaking and realize you are not in the optimal zone, that is okay. Do a quick “Ummm-Hmmm,” and it will prompt you to where you need to be.

Thank you for your interest in our “Look Inside” article for “How to Speak Like a Broadcaster and Lead Like a CEO” book. I hope you have a sense on how helpful the book and training can be for your speech, voice and public speaking goals. We offer training in these areas and more.

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