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The Woman's Voice: Her Magical Combination of Femininity and Strength
An interview by Alessandra Zocca
Ms.Marie Terese Letorney, International Voice Specialist, Founder/Director of ASK YOUR VOICE
Marie Terese Letorney, International Voice Specialist, Founder/Director of ASK YOUR VOICE led a special «Master Class» for PWI assisting women to explore the beauty, power and importance of their ‘female voice’ in the work environment and involving the participants in specific scenarios.
PWI – Marie Terese, enhancing people’s voice potential is your mission. How would you describe the importance of the human voice, what does the voice tell about a person?
Ms. Letorney – “From the moment we are born, we arrive bellowing into the world with the very essence of our sound announcing, “Here I am”! Your voice is the communication tool of your soul and your spirit. Your voice is your vibration, your identity, your brand. This is my mantra to my clients and to whom ever I meet either individually or speaking before groups. The human voice is unlimited with its capabilities. It is a kaleidoscope with a rich harmonic content of sounds, enabling one to express a variety of emotions. When I chose my logo, I chose the colors of the rainbow, because it truly resembles the voice which can communicate every nuance of color. The voice expresses all of one’s emotions. One’s voice needs to grasp and stimulate the ear; whether to lead in leadership, to motivate a partner in business, to inspire as a teacher would to their student, to soothe as a mother comforting her child, to seduce as a lover would to their lover or to encourage as a friend to a friend.”
Most importantly, the human voice is our vital instrument for communication, especially in today’s global world of diversity. To be able to speak with confidence and ease is an essential skill for today’s diverse business world whether in negotiations, presentations, conference calls, interviews or tele-presence”.
PWI – What are the key elements of the human voice?
Ms. Letorney – “Elements of a voice, what makes a voice distinctive, what makes a voice beautiful?
I would say the timbre (color), speaking legato (smooth line) and with a tempo sostenuto (to sustain your breath), as well as intensity, inflection and placement of tone. Whereas, what makes a voice distinctive in a negative sense is when the voice is monotone (meaning always talking in the same color, in the same rhythm, in the same pitch whether high or low) or when the voice sounds very high and nasal. Consequently, the voice will lack the variety of color, tempo, expression, etc.”
PWI – Marie Terese, you will lead a Master Class for PWI on April 30th.
Could you kindly give us a taste of the topic?
Ms. Letorney – “My goal and reward as a Voice specialist, is assisting my clients to discover the beauty, the power and the many colors of their voice. I want to give to people what I have learned on the stage, my life experiences with the voice and the ability to adapt for their individual needs.
First of all, it must be understood that there is a difference between a male and female voice. Physiologically, the male voice has longer vocal chords which produce a deeper sound as well as a deeper resonance because of their larger physique. If men don’t support their voice, their sound comes across as mumbling or even monotone. Whereas, the female voice physiologically, has shorter vocal chords which gives her a higher placed sound. Generally, having a smaller physique compared to a man, her resonance is placed higher. Because of this difference, the woman’s voice sounds more expressive. For example, at a board or conference meeting, if the woman executive does not properly support her voice breathing correctly while raising her voice for intensity or debating an important point in a negotiation, consequently, her voice will go up in pitch and/or her sentences will end-up in sounding like questions instead of statements. Unfortunately, she is usually labeled as insecure, emotional or nervous, but she is not! Also, from the physical aspect, I advise my female clients, when they are sitting at the conference table, not to cross their legs from the knee while speaking, why? It is because it cuts into their base of proper breath support when sitting. There is also a way in which a woman can make ‘her space’, ‘her presence’ to create her own energy and help facilitate and enhance her speaking. This was discussed and practiced at the Master Class.”
PWI – Do women and men equally express their voice? How can women promote their femininity and strength in their voice?
Ms. Letorney – “I often find that the person’s voice does not match their body, and their position of work. They are not using their voice to its optimum potential whether they are women or men. Apart from this, there are still a number of social issues between women and men that can be related to the voice. In reference to your question of women, it has to do with cultural aspects, different gender qualities, concision, presence and women in leadership. For example, in reference to culture, I found with some of my women clients that sometimes they are a little apprehensive to counteract with their male counterparts. It does not mean they are weak, they are highly intelligent, educated, experienced and sophisticated, but it can sometimes be a cultural issue depending on the situation. Furthermore, when I work with my women clients, I discuss that wonderful aspect of ‘nurturing’.” Ms. Letorney continues to say that studies have highlighted that women do not reach quicker to top management positions, because having the female nurturing quality they generally want to remain and be the best in their current position. Whereas, their male counterpart is thinking how they can access to a higher position quicker and more competitively. With the combination of the woman’s nurturing aspect and their instinctive nature, studies are finding more and more that when women are employed in top management positions, their companies' profit increased. Women are natural organizers, natural in multi-tasking, and women have a great influence in the world. “I think a woman should not be afraid to speak-up in her work organization. When they do speak-up, they must not let their voices ascend which men can often interpret as ‘emotional’.” She then continues to discuss about concision giving an example of how a man would say simply and directly, ‘The sun is out today’, whereas, a woman will go on saying: ‘Ah, the sun is out today and after work, I will go shopping and then I will do …’ and that women tend to be more expressive with telling their whole story. “Women do not need to do that in business, it’s short and dry. Women need to keep their sentence short and to the point, but using the right, tone, dynamics and inflections.”
We discussed the importance of presence and Marie Terese suggested that, “women should analyze their male colleagues who have the influence in the meeting by observing how they speak, listen to the men’s tempo. Usually men are very direct, calm, and to the point. For example, I once had a client who was upset because she proposed a fabulous idea and then 30 minutes later, her male colleague said the same thing, but the group’s reaction to her male colleague was ‘Oh, that’s a great idea’. I asked her to reflect why they listened to him, not her, and how he said her idea? Women have to speak logically, not emotionally, go to the point and emphasize the right words. Women should speak with more conviction, more presence and know when to accentuate words that are important”.
In conclusion, we spoke about Leadership. “With our diverse global world, we need more women to lead and execute leadership roles in both the political and business platforms. It is for this reason why women must know how to deliver and execute their Voice to its maximum potential. After all, we have the advantage of being born with naturally expressive voices”.
“Alessandra, it will be a great pleasure to give this Master Class for PWI. This association is a genuine example of what defines an organization of professional international women; a positive collaboration of mutual respect in friendships and working relationships.”
On April 30th, Ms. Letorney led a Master Class for PWI having women explore the importance of their female voice in their work environment and involving the participants in specific scenarios. Eight countries were represented amongst PWI's fifteen participants.
|Eight countries were represented amongst PWI's fifteen participants on April 30st 2011
|Marie Terese Letorney, International Voice Specialist, Founder/Director of Ask Your Voice.
With 20 years experience singing on renowned operatic stages and as guest soloist in concert with Europe’s finest orchestras, Ms. Letorney has been recognized internationally by both the public and press with great enthusiasm! Based on her international experience, classical training, as Founder/Director of Ask Your Voice, and with her unique combination of a Bachelor Degree in Music and Master’s Degree in Management, she has developed an innovative methodology for all languages for the Professional Speaking Voice.
Back to PWI Magazine - Spring 2011