January 6, 2011
“And what would you like to order?” the waitress asked as she patiently stood over our table.
“Can I have a Chicken Quesadilla with –“ I paused, taking my eyes from the Menu to look at her. She looked back at me with a puzzled look on her face, holding her hand up to her ear, and leaning further in towards the table.
“She’ll take a chicken quesadilla with no guacamole sauce,” my dad said quickly before I could even repeat myself.
“You need to learn to speak up,” my dad said sternly. The waitress, and everyone else let out a quick giggle, but I didn’t find anything funny. As she continued to take my table’s order, I thought about what my dad said. This isn’t the first time that he’s told me this. It actually happens every time we go out to eat, or any time we’re out in public. I used to think that this was a simply a problem that I had in restaurants, but I eventually realized this problem occurred everywhere.
After we left the restaurant, I became more self-conscious of my speech. When I got home, I went straight to my room to practice making my voice projection louder. After about an hour I stopped, and was very proud of the progress I thought I was making. I then started to go downstairs to talk to my mom.
“Do you know where my navy blue pants are?” I asked as I slowly began to walk down the steps.
“What?” she yelled back at me.
“My jeans! Do you know where my jeans are?” I said with an attitude. It made me a little upset that she couldn’t hear me the first time.
“I can’t hear you,” she yelled back again.
“Either walk all the way downstairs or talk louder!” I couldn’t believe it. All that time I wasted in front of a mirror and still showed no signs of progress. I went back to my room and sat on my bed. I couldn’t understand how even when I yelled my voice wasn’t loud enough. Richard Rodriguez once said, “Linguistic difficulties have no serious consequences” insinuating that even if you have a hard time with your speech it is unlikely that you will be penalized for it. My life at the time was proof against his theory.
I had been dealing with this problem for years, and couldn’t figure out an effective way to fix it. As a result of being so self-conscience of my speech I refrained from speaking in public. I started to think about this effected not only my personal but life but my school life as well. I began to think back to my latest report card. Teachers would constantly give me B’s and C’s in the participation portion of my grade because I would hardly ever contribute to classroom discussions. However, whenever I did grow the courage to raise my hand to answer a question or contribute to the class, they would ask me to repeat myself or cut me off mid-sentence to tell me to talk louder. I hated that. It started to become annoyed after a while, which made me stop participating altogether. Another result of my poor projection was that I would receive low scores when presenting something orally. Oral presentations were the one part of school I hated the most. As soon as I would start presenting, I could immediately tell no one could hear anything I was saying. Some would look at me with puzzled faces, some would break off into conversation, and others would just find something else to do. Throughout the presentation I would constantly try to raise my voice but I would never have any luck. This caused me to think further into my future, would people not listen to me because I couldn’t speak loud enough? Would they be able to respect me and take me seriously? No one really listens to someone who has a soft voice.
So much power is given to the force behind a voice. It’s lets people know that your serious about what your saying, and they need to listen. Have you ever heard of some one robbing a bank saying, ”Excuse me… but can you give me all your money” in a soft voice? I don’t think anyone would take him seriously and a few people may even laugh at him, but If he came busting through the door yelling
“GIVE ME ALL YOUR MONEY!” then he would get more of the response he was looking for, he would be taken seriously.
Knowing this, I also want the ability to put meaningful force not only behind what I say, but how I say. I want people to take me seriously, and not to ask me to repeat myself several times before they can clearly hear me. Projection is a skill, and a lot more then how you speak. Since then, I have been working on my voice projection, making sure that everyone can hear what I have to say. I’ve found a way to put power behind my voice and I wont give up until I have perfected the skill.