By Cathy Sobocan, M.A.

In your leadership role, what does your voice tell people about you when you speak? What do you want your voice to say about you?

I spent a large part of my career on the air as a news anchor. When I started out I thought it was important to sound authoritative in order to come across as highly professional and knowledgeable, so I made my voice sound that way – or at least I thought I did.

Friends would tell me that my voice had a harsh, bitchy tone. At the time, I didn’t quite get what they meant. After all, I wanted to be taken seriously, and this was my “professional” voice.

Later in life I studied voice and speech at York University and with a greater understanding, I thought about my news anchor years and what my friends said about the tone of my voice. Turns out I was pulling my voice into the back of my throat in order to get what I thought was an authoritative sound, but that kind of tone can push people away. Who wants to hang out with someone who sounds authoritative all the time?

Scientists say the tone of our voice accounts for 38 percent of the impression we’re making during oral communication. Our voice is always letting the world know how we feel in any given moment. It happens quickly and subconsciously.

For example, if you’re feeling a bit insecure like I was in that news anchor job, your voice might take on an authoritative tone in order to compensate for the insecurity. Or it might become high pitched because you’re nervous.

If you’re not really in the mood to speak to people because you’re tired or have a lot on your mind, your voice might sound monotone. We’ve all been there.

If you’re more of an introvert your voice might be very soft.

So how do we get around that? Here are three simple strategies to help open up the tone of the voice.

  1. The human voice works best when the body is without tension. So, have a stretch and a yawn and a little sigh of relief. The stretch will reinvigorate the body. The yawn will help open up the back of the throat and release the jaw. And the sigh of relief gets your breath going.
  2. A voice that communicates well, is one that is not stuck in the back of the throat. Purposely, with a dull, monotone voice, say the numbers one, two, three. This should remind you of how not to sound. Now say the numbers aloud, with vibrancy.
  3. Record your voice, saying something you might say to someone at work. Try three different versions. Listen back and determine what sounded great and what could sound better. Then try again. Play around with your voice. Be out of the box. You might be pleasantly surprised with what you hear.


Cathy is one of the most sought after voice and public speaking coaches in Toronto. She ‘s uniquely qualified with two graduate degrees; one in voice and speech, and another in broadcast journalism. She has an undergraduate degree in singing. Cathy understands both sides of the microphone, having spent over twenty years on the air as a news anchor and reporter in Canada and New York City.

She’s trained in the theatre department of York University, the Stratford Festival, Second City, etc. Her clients include senior executives, Olympic athletes, university educators, media personalities, actors, keynote speakers, and people who just want to be more confident at communicating. She facilitates corporate workshops, coaches privately, and teaches presentation skills courses at Humber College and Hart House at the University of Toronto. She spent six years as the voice and performance coach for TEDxToronto.

Cathy is also a speaker and Mentor in the Women in Leadership Foundation’s Mentorship Program



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