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Mental images that improve the sound of your voice - "Direction"

In voice training – especially for singing – we work a lot with mental images. They help us create the sound we are aiming for. Mental images can influence the quality of the sound of our voice – if we just think about content and let ourselves be surprised by what comes out of our mouths, our voice will sound different than when we imagine directing the sound of our voice into every corner of a room for example. Even though the creation of a sound is a mechanical act of pushing air through our vocal chords, letting them vibrate and resonate in our mouths – what we imagine while doing so, has a big influence on what our voice will sound like once the air gets pushed through. I have written 4 blog posts on this topic, the last one was «space» – today's topic is «direction».

Direction or Projection You might have heard of the term „voice projection“ - it is based on an image that we have in our minds – projecting our voice onto our audience. On the one hand with the right breathing technique we can give our voice the chance to produce a strong and healthy sound. On the other hand we imagine projecting our voice like a projector would an image onto a screen. This gives our voice a sense of direction. It is no more than an image in our heads – all we have to do is imagine that our voice is directed at something or someone and it will sound stronger than when we are just speaking or singing without direction. Direction is also closely linked to „focus“ - you can focus on one spot and direct your voice there.

As in my last blog post – in my opinion there are 2 reasons why we don't project or direct our voice: lack of experience or technique, and shyness and insecurity.

Lack of experience or technique: When we never sing or speak in public, we are inexperienced with our voice. We don't really know how to use it properly and then run the risk of using it the wrong way – potentially damaging our voice (that is mostly the case when you strain your voice repeatedly over a long period of time). When we don't know how to direct or project our voice, we use it inefficiently, wasting energy without a sense of direction and losing the connection with our audience.

So in order to save our voice, we have two options:
  • know exactly what is most important in our speech or song and direct our voice
  • follow training, so we feel more confident to direct our voice and use it efficiently
Shyness or insecurity: Imagine yourself when you are feeling insecure or shy – do you feel like you want to direct your voice at someone? Or sing in front of strangers? Probably not, you will most likely wait to be asked or say you can't sing.

When we are shy, we don't really want to direct our voice at someone. We are more comfortable sitting in one corner, going unnoticed by everybody else. When we are directing our voice, we have to be sure that what we are directing is 100% good. When we doubt that our voice or the content of our speech is relevant, we might hold back in order to save ourselves from making a mistake or making a fool of ourselves. We talk with an imaginary questionmark over our heads.

When we feel confident on the other hand we can feel this sense of direction and project our voice onto our audience, without feeling self conscious about it. This makes it actually easier to create a healthy sound of our voice.

How to use the image of direction for your voice: Next time you feel nervous or self conscious: stand or sit up straight, focus on a point in the room and imagine your voice like a ray of light or a lazer directed exactly at that point. You can practice this at home, focusing on a spot on the wall directing a long „mmm“ or „ma“ or a short and self-assured «Yes» or «Ha!» at this point. The more you do it the more experienced you will get with your voice. Over time you will feel more comfortable directing or projecting your voice, because you feel more confident speaking or singing with conviction than with a questionmark over your head.

I hope these tips were useful. If you would like to get more tips like these or tried them out, please let me know. You can also subscribe to my newsletter, like my facebook page or read my other blog posts on tips about voice training and feeling confident as a public speaker. You can even join one of my workshops or sign up for individual coaching. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sonja Nannan




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