WHEN YOU THINK of someone with a deep voice, people like Barry White or Johnny Cash probably come to mind. You might wish you sounded similarly low-pitched.
Voice pitch is a funny thing: Research also shows that most people, both men and women, don’t like the sound of their own voices, especially on recordings.
“Due to societal stereotypes, men feel like men when they speak with a deeper voice,” says Vinny Raval, director at The Speech Coach. “A deeper voice is also associated with control and sincerity, again aspects that one associates in a biased manner with male characteristics.”
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Even in our supposedly progressive society, there can be assumptions that men have deeper voices and that having a voice that is interpreted to be feminine is an inherently negative thing. A 2020 study published in Scientific Reports found that men with lower-pitched voices were considered more likely to win a fistfight. They were also perceived as more effective leaders and more likely to be successful political candidates. And, women tend to be more attracted to men with deeper voices.
Your voice is yours, at whatever pitch, and that’s a compelling reason not to change it. But if you do, however, decide you want it to sound deeper, there are some ways to do that.
Can You Actually Make Your Voice Sound Deeper?
“It is possible,” says Dan Sherwood, M.S., CCC-SP, a speech pathologist at Duke Health. “Men have an advantage just being born male. With larger voice boxes, they’re going to sound lower, period.”
But, there is a right and wrong way to train your voice. Sherwood says he treats men and women who’ve damaged their voices by forcing it to sound deeper.
“They tighten up and try to muscle their voice out of the throat too much, and that’s got an expiration date on it,” he explains. “People who try to have these authoritative voices are driving and pushing, and that can be very traumatic for the vocal cords and the small muscles that support the voice box that aren’t meant to work that hard for that long.”
Your voice is created thanks to three systems that work together, according to Temple Health. The respiratory system, including the lungs, diaphragm, and windpipe, provides breath support. The phonatory system is made up of the larynx, or voice box, and vocal folds, better known as the vocal cords, and produces the sound of your voice. The resonatory system is made up of the throat, nasal passages, sinus, and mouth, and is known as the vocal tract.
The sound of your voice is produced by vocal fold vibrations. Focusing more on the respiratory and resonatory systems is the safest way to deepen your voice.
How to Make Your Voice Sound Deeper
If you’re set on deepening your voice, there are a few strategies that can help.
You Likely Need a Vocal Coach
There are several YouTube videos and TikToks out there offering advice for deepening your voice. Sherwood says it’s not all bad advice, but it’s best to work with a vocal coach who can get to know your voice and ensure you’re not damaging your voice muscles as you try to make it sound deeper.
“If someone isn’t watching you do it, how do you know you’re doing it right?” he says. “How do you know you’re getting the most benefit from it if you don’t have that objective set of eyes and ears with you?”
Working with a vocal coach can often bring results in just a couple of weeks, Sherwood says.
Focus On the Unharmed Voice
Pitch is just one aspect of your voice. Sherwood says you must work on your whole voice. This includes getting in touch with your breath support, learning to relax the muscles supporting and surrounding the voice box, and learning to take advantage of the resonating elements of your voice.
“Once you train the whole voice, those lower notes will come,” since you’ll be in better vocal shape, he explains. “The vocal cords need to have flexibility and need to be dynamic.”
Trying to force a deep voice can injure your voice muscles, which Sherwood says might raise your pitch and require treatment to rehab your voice.
Know Your Range
You can deepen your voice, but everyone has anatomical limits. Sherwood says you have to know your usable range before you can train your voice.
Then, you can figure out functionally how much higher or lower your voice can safely go, and which inflection patterns you can use at a lower range.
Working with a voice coach can ensure that you learn methods to keep your larynx in a resting, neutral position so you’re not pushing and straining your voice to sound deeper, Sherwood says.
“If the muscles are tight and straining, the sound is not going to reflect well,” he says. “It’s going to get absorbed before it resonates out, so someone is not going to sound the way they want to.”
Try Diaphragmatic Breathing
It’s possible that the way you usually breathe is having an impact on the way your voice sounds.
Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, ensures you’re using your diaphragm—the large muscle at the base of your lungs—correctly when you breathe, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
This type of breathing, which is popular with singers and actors, might help you control the pitch of your voice. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety.
Here’s how to do it: Try inhaling deeply through your nose, bringing the air all the way in and as far down as possible; then, while exhaling slowly, say something. You should feel a vibration as you speak.
Use the Straw Technique
Blowing bubbles through a straw into a cup of water, while making sounds, can help increase airflow and relax the muscles of your voice. This could help you produce a more resonant voice.
According to the National Center for Voice and Speech, the straw technique stretches and relaxes the vocal cords. It can help make your voice stronger, and make it less likely to go hoarse or raspy.
Practice Yawning and Sighing
Common voice warm-up exercises include yawning and sighing. They help improve airflow and prevent vocal muscle strain, since you’re focusing your mouth as a resonator.
“We tell people to take advantage of their resonator more than just lowering pitch in and of itself, because the pitch is just a perception,” Sherwood says.
Speaking in a breathier, aspirated way, as if through a sigh, can help to bring down the pitch of your voice. After a long yawn, you can use the voiced sigh to go down through the scales to a lower tone.
Work on Your Inflection
There are three kinds of inflection: upward, neutral, and downward. Neutral inflection results in a robotic, monotonous way of speaking, while upward inflection can make every sentence sound like a question.
Aiming for downward inflection, on the other hand, can make your voice sound deeper as you’re ending the sentence at a lower pitch.
Don’t Force Your Voice to Change
Staying relaxed and not straining your voice is crucial. Otherwise, you can damage your vocal cords.
Vocal cord problems can cause raspiness or hoarseness, trouble swallowing or coughing, or bumps to form on your vocal cords. You might need voice therapy or even surgery to treat them.
“When guys are trying to affect a lower voice that nature didn’t intend for them, they tighten up and push it out, and there’s just a lot of muscle tension in and around the throat,” Sherwood says. “There’s nothing harder on the larynx than speaking too low all day, especially if they’re trying to speak loudly.”
Always take time to relax and make sure your voice muscles aren’t contracting, he adds. “It’s always better to prevent a voice problem than to have to manage one.”
Philip Ellis is News Editor at Men’s Health, covering fitness, pop culture, sex and relationships, and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV, and he is the author of Love & Other Scams.
Erica Sweeney is a writer who mostly covers health, wellness and careers. She has written for The New York Times, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, Parade, Money, Business Insider and many more.
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