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Scarier Than Halloween November 3, 2007

Posted by Edwin in Accents, English, Speaking, Toastmasters.

I just delivered a Toastmasters speech on the past Wednesday, right on the Halloween. No, this was not the scary part. It was my first speech in 11 months. This was not that scary either. The real scary moment was when I received the recording afterwards, and I watched myself delivering my speech.

Many people, including myself, find it very uncomfortable watching ourselves or listening to our own voices. A while ago, I posted in the language forum, asking why so many forum members claimed to speak multiple languages but yet not many members have recorded their own audio clips. I only got 3 or 4 answers back, saying that they were afraid of listening to their own voices.

Indeed, I have realized that this is a severe problem for myself. This past week, my company had a major upgrade to its telephony system, and all of us had to reset their voice mailboxes and record their greetings again. It took me 5-6 takes to record a short greeting that was acceptable to me.

Ever since I had taken the “Accent reduction course“, I would occasionally sit beside my laptop and record myself reading some short passages in English. Listening to them simply makes me shiver. Lately, I had installed Pamela for Skype and had tried recording my Skpye conversations a few times. My own voice just sounds so weird to me when I play back the recordings.

Perhaps it is time to fix the problem once and for all. It seems that I am the only person that rarely listen to my own voice. So here is something I am going to try. I will carry a portable recorder with me and record my own voice everyday. I will then listen to all the recordings afterwards. I will try it out for a week or so and see how it goes.



1. Geoffrey Barto - November 7, 2007

When we got a new voicemail system, everyone required multiple takes to record their messages. A lot of people don’t really like their voices. (Me included.) A big part of the problem is that we will of necessity sound different to ourselves than to other people because of the way the vocal apparatus is put together. This makes it very hard to tune the way you talk.

I have tried recording myself for mp3s to listen to for drilling vocabulary lists. It’s always a shock. It sounds like a completely different person. Worse, it’s not necessarily a person I want to listen to for an extended period of time. (I wonder how my coworkers do it!)

2. Edwin - November 8, 2007

I have a feeling that it is a problem to many people.

As you have mentioned, people around you are already used to your voice. So the only person who still complains is you. The reason is that you rarely hear your own voice.

So I believe the simplest and most straight-forward solution is to listen to our own voices more.

I am trying it out for a few days already. I will probably follow up with a post later on.

3. Marcelo - November 13, 2007

Hi Edwin,
You are definitely not alone. I myself don’t like the way I sound, especially when speaking a foreign language.When I talk to myself my pronunciation and accent, from my own ears, sound native-like.However, one day I recorded myself and then realized that was really not the case.Anyway, now I just don’t care too much about the way I sound like.I mean, I still try to improve, but I don’t expect any outstanding change. I made a post on my blog which is kind of along those lines. You may want to check it out http://cantostories.podbean.com

Best Regards

4. Edwin - November 13, 2007

Congratulations! Your Cantonese sounds very good! I am adding you to my blogroll. Hope you don’t mind 😛

BTW, where do you live now?

5. Marcelo - November 14, 2007

Hi Edwin,
Thanks for the compliments.I was a little self-conscious about putting an audio clip of me speaking Cantonese but everyone seems to have liked it.I might put some others in the future. Thanks for adding me to your blogroll! Now I live in Brazil.
BTW, what happened to the conversation with Ziad Fazah you were going to have?

6. Edwin - November 14, 2007

Thanks for asking. We had set up weekly calls. I had 2 more calls with him so far. He missed the call last week.

I was going to post a follow-up on him, but then I also have many draft posts piling up. I have a lot of things in my mind but I just don’t have the time to write them down!

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