Have you ever known someone whose voice irritates you to your core? Have you heard a voice that was so suggestive you felt sexually stimulated? Can you recall when you heard a voice that was so soothing, it put you to sleep, or alternatively one that startled you to a state of attentiveness?
Human beings who have the ability to hear have heard and reacted to all types of voices and voice inflections. This article hopes to inspire you to consider how your own voice and voice inflection, including tonal quality and volume might be impacting your massage practice. If you have not considered this, now is the time. Your voice alone can sabotage or support your success in this profession, especially since our client’s senses are all heightened when they are receiving massage therapy.
YOUR MASSAGE THERAPY VOICE
You have a different voice you use with your mother, your child your employer and your lover. You have a different voice you use when you are yelling at the dog and lulling a baby to sleep. As a massage therapist, you must also use a correct voice for your massage therapy clients. This is another mindfulness practice. Here is a list of should-nots to help you find your way:
- Your voice should not be irritating.
- Your voice should not be too “breathy”, for lack of a better word.
- Your voice should not be too loud.
- Your voice should not be too soft.
- Your voice should not be too sexual or sensual.
- Your voice should not be coming out of your nose. Work with bringing your voice into your chest and engaging your diaphragm. If you need support with this, see a voice coach.
- Avoid repeating trendy words or phrases like “gotcha”, “for sure”, “absolutely”, “totally” and “awesome”. This really belongs in an article on communication skills. I’ll leave it in nonetheless, because this can be a pet peeve for certain clients.
Work with the cultivation of your professional therapeutic voice and be sure to use that voice on your voice mail recording as well.
At the Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy, I have included a great deal of student presentation in our classes. When the students present, the information presented is always educational for the audience, however, the real goal is for the presenter to have the opportunity to fine hone their presentation and public speaking skills.
I have repeatedly stated in my blog that as a massage therapist you are not just going to have clients magically appear on your massage table. YOU have to get them there. You will do this by either convincing someone to give you a job or a contract, or by recruiting clients to your very own practice. How is this done? We must present our story to our public. The “story” includes:
- who I am
- what I do
- why you want what I do
- how to get it from me
We must be adept, warm and friendly, confident and authentic in our presentation style. Here is a list of regular feedback I always give to my students when they speak publically.
- Do not read off of your notes.
- Make eye contact with your audience.
- Project your voice.
- Dress for success.
- Smile and have a relaxed but healthy posture.
- Do not fill every single moment of silence with Um, Uh or AND. The silent moments will keep your audience engaged, and remember this, music is beautiful because there are pauses between the notes.
These points of advice are standard in public speaking education.
SPEAKING IN QUESTIONS
There is one very big problem that I think many are not aware of. It is a use of rising intonation in speech that makes a person sound as if they lack intelligence and have no idea what they are talking about. It’s extremely common with young adults, and more so with women than with men. I call it “speaking in questions”.
I’m not quite sure where speaking in questions was born, but I suspect it came from the 80’s and from somewhere in California. Speaking in questions looks like this.
When one makes a factual statement such as “my name is Jill”, they make that statement with a question inflection. When one speaks in questions, their voice inflection will go up a few curved notes upon the end of the statement so it sounds like they are asking “my name is Jill?”
When this voice inflection is used at the end of a statement, it sounds like the person does not know what they are talking about.
Everyone has heard this before. Here is another example. “Hi? I charge $80 per hour? My office is at the corner of Vine and 17th? I’d really love to see you and give you a massage? I specialize in Trigger Point Therapy?”
Hmmm. I think I’ll find another therapist.
Please listen to yourself speak, and if you find you’re speaking in questions, please stop. I know this is hard, really I do. My 7 and 10 year old are working it out and you can too. It will be to your benefit to start to speak like you know what you are talking about.
I hope this advice helps you! May your voice be music to your client’s ever relaxing ears, and a great tool to add to your marketing toolbox!