Because of Laurence Olivier, Margaret Thatcher lowered her pitch. Taking advantage of a chance meeting with Olivier on a train from Brighton in 1979, a Thatcher advisor asked how she might eliminate her shrill sound. Olivier arranged for her to work with the speech coach from the National Theater. One voice coach says that rather than bring her pitch down, Thatcher made her voice sound lower with a new cadence and physical cues like less of a smile, a mobile jaw and a relaxed diaphragm .
Please, decide for yourself:
Where are we going? To how lower voices affect success.
Your Voice and Your Income
Looking at 792 CEOs, researchers at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business found that men with deeper voices had more earning power and longer tenures in office. Correlating pitch, salary and firm size, they concluded that a one percent drop in pitch meant an extra $19,000 a year for the CEO and a firm that was worth $30 million more. Deep voices, they concluded, were associated with competence, confidence, trustworthiness, and persuasiveness.
Where are we going? To a cause of gender inequality.
Your Voice and Your Job
In politics and business the message for women is similar. When men and women were recorded at different pitches saying “I urge you to vote for me this November,” a majority of the study’s participants said they would vote for the candidates with the lower pitched voices. As for business, one litigator told an NPR interviewer that she headed straight for the voice coach when told that her voice was “screechy, high pitched, and quick talking.” She learned, like Thatcher, that it was about your diaphragm and facial muscles. You have to watch out for “uptalk” an the end of sentences. Don’t sound chirpy. Use fewer words. And say “one minute” instead of “Got a minute?” and “hello,” not “hi.”
Our Bottom Line: Gender Inequality
Even if we agree that the female voice helps to generate inequality, finding a solution is far more difficult. Perhaps though Reese Witherspoon’s Legally Blond (2001) has the answer. You can dress in pink, chirp and have a tiny dog and be very smart.
For many smiles, do watch this trailer: