Pageant winners have beautiful voices, so learn how to speak like a queen…
A Great Voice Can Help You Win
An excellent voice is a true asset in pageant competition because it completes a contestant’s image and makes her sound like a winner.
The vast majority of national and international pageant winners have excellent speaking voices. They sound as beautiful as they look. Winners noted for their superb voices include:
- famed television journalist Diane Sawyer (America’s Junior Miss 1963)
- Miss America 1993 Leanza Cornett
- Miss Universes Michelle McLean and Margaret Gardiner
Just as a wonderful voice can help create a winning image in pageant competition, a voice that is monotone, high-pitched, nasal, or childish can cause you to lose, simply because a woman with a poor voice doesn’t sound like a winner.
In fact, a Gallup poll conducted by Dr. Lillian Glass, a vocal coach to celebrities and author of Talk to Win, revealed that if people don’t like how you sound, 64 to 80 percent of them will tune you out … no matter how great your message!
That was the case at a recent national pageant, where several women I had assumed would be top contenders fared poorly because their speaking voices were unpleasantly high-pitched and nasal. Since a titleholder spends her year speaking, speaking, speaking, judges simply can’t visualize someone who sounds like Olive Oyl being effective. And if judges can’t imagine a young woman as the winner, they’re not going to award her the title.
Learn to Speak Like a Winner
Unfortunately, many young women don’t realize that a voice can be improved with help from a speech or theater coach.
“Speech therapy is wonderful,” says Cheryl Prewitt Salem, who worked hard to improve her voice in order to win the 1980 Miss America title:
“I went to the speech teacher at my university. It didn’t cost me a thing. He volunteered a couple of hours a week to help me with my diction, intonation, and placement-not to help me lose who I was, but to change my voice enough that I was comfortable with it. You never want to change who you are but to be the best you can be.”
In addition to working with experts, a pageant contestant can improve her voice by recording herself chatting on the phone or in another relaxed situation, study the tape of her voice, and work to make improvements. For example:
- You need air to speak well. Take a full breath before beginning to speak.
- Speak at a moderate pace. Fast speakers sound nervous.
- But don’t speak too slowly either. Very slow speakers sound boring.
- Enunciate the end of each word.
- Don’t let your sentences “fade out” softly.
- Soften any regional “twangs” (they sound too nasal). Women’s southern accents often have this tendency.
- Don’t end a sentence on a high note as if you were asking a question.
- Practice copying the voice styles of professionals like Diane Sawyer.
Speaking Habits to Avoid
Dr. Lillian Glass’s research on voice revealed that verbal habits like those listed below irritated two-thirds of listeners, so work at avoiding annoying verbal traits and phrases such as:
- she’s like (“She’s like, it was so funny.”)
- he goes (“He’s goes, it was so funny.”)
- ya know (“It was, ya know, so funny.”)
- I mean (“I mean, it was so funny.”)
- Like (“It was, like, so funny…”)
- ta (to) (“I am going ta major in…”)
- s’cuse me (excuse me?)
Don’t sabotage your chances by turning off the judges with your voice. Speak like a winner.
Listen to these gorgeous speaking voices below: