Thursday, October 1, 2015

To Speak Impeccably - The Four Ps of a Pleasing Speaking Voice

A pleasant voice, which has to include clear enunciation,
is not only attractive to those who hear it ...
its appeal is permanent.
Loretta Young

Impeccable speech is not only about the words a lady says, but how she says them.  A voice that falls pleasantly on the listener's ear is an asset to which every lady can aspire, for the qualities that make a voice pleasing are within her control and are perfected with attention and practice.

The first essential quality of a pleasing speaking voice is crisp, polished pronunciation.  Distinct words or sounds are not blended together in what phonetics professors call assimilation. Dunno (don't know), hafta (have to), probly (probably), gonna (going to), wanna (want to), and ushally (usually) are common assimilation errors.  Care is also taken not to drop the d consonant from the end of words, as in used to, and supposed to.

A second quality required for a pleasing voice is balanced projection.  Many women speak too loudly; others use an irritating, breathy whisper.  A lady projects just enough for the listener to comfortably hear, but not so loudly that others beyond her circle of conversation can't help overhearing.  Perhaps you have witnessed women who are so caught up in themselves that they seem to think everyone, even strangers, will be interested in hearing what they have to say.  Ladies do not entertain such illusions.

A third indispensable quality of a pleasing speaking voice is sweet-sounding pitch.  A shrieky, shrill voice is not at all pleasant; neither is a high-pitched, cloying voice that is overly ingratiating.  A lady speaks in natural, low tones that convey sincerity, warmth, and expression. 

And finally, an amiable pace is the fourth characteristic of a pleasing speaking voice.  A lady's speech never sounds rushed to the listener.  It's rhythm is like a comfortable strolling gait - not a fast gallop, and not a slow crawl.  It is complimented by timely pauses, allowing both the speaker and the listener to breathe and engage in thoughtful conversation. 

Impeccable Speech Habit:  Speak with crisp, polished pronunciation and balanced projection, in a sweet-sounding pitch at an amiable pace.

Photo:  Audrey Hepburn receives elocution lessons in My Fair Lady, 1964.


  1. Hello Nancy,
    What a wonderful blog you have here! I look forward to everything you have to say on this and other topics. It is so easy to let speech patterns slip from a higher standard, to that of the (possibly sinking...) norm. Your writing raises the point that we should aspire to that better way!

    I love watching old movies from the 40's and 50's, where the actresses and actors all sound as if they graduated from a lovely boarding school, even though we know, by their own admission, that they did not!

    Thank you again,

    1. Thank you, Lisa! I'm so happy you enjoyed the article, and appreciate you taking the time to comment. Loretta Young (quoted at the top of the post) was certainly one of those actresses from the 40's and 50's who had such a pleasant speaking voice!

  2. I couldn't agree more. I was beginning to think I was the only woman left who thought this way. So happy to meet a kindred spirit. :)

  3. Thank you, Jennifer. What sweet encouragement!