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After we’ve finished a client video and we send it to them, I almost always know what they’re going to say: “This is the best video I’ve ever seen in my entire life. You’re a genius!”

Okay, not really.

80% of the time, they’ll say something to the effect of, “Is that really how I sound?”

The answer is, yes.

Well, kind of.

No One Can Hear You

Alright, technically, that’s not true – as you probably already know.

However, what’s true is that you hear a certain voice when you speak, which differs from the one that other people hear when you speak.

So, in short, no one hears you the way you hear you.

Confused?

How The Ear Hears

Before we move on, let’s cover a quick primer on how your ear hears.

In the ear canal, sound causes vibrations in your eardrum (tympanic membrane). These vibrations move the malleus, incus, and stapes, which are the smallest bones in your entire body.

Those bones are attached to your cochlea, a sac filled with fluid and housing “hair cells” along the inside.
That fluid moves as the bones vibrate which, in turn, moves those tiny hair cells. Those cells turn the movement into electricity, a language your brain speaks quite well.

Every sound produces a different electrical activity, which your brain interprets as a different sound – laughing, howling, ringing, etc.

Source: https://wistia.com/blog/sound-of-voice-on-video

How “Your Voice” Travels

The vast majority of sounds you hear travel through the air. Whether it’s a car horn, a dog’s bark, or even the person you’re trying to ignore, if you hear them, you heard a sound that came through the air before it hit your eardrum.

This isn’t normally what happens when you talk, though. That’s because you hear your voice after it gets done with air travel, but you also hear it directly from its source right in your ear canal.

Furthermore, your voice literally vibrates your skull, as you speak. It might be much more noticeable when your colleague sitting across you is making a personal call, but it turns out you have the same effect.

Dense material like the bone of your skull (this applies to everyone; I’m not calling you dense), transmits different frequencies better. Higher ones are weaker, but the lower frequencies in your voice can make it all the way to where your ear sits in the temporal bone.

This is why it probably sounds like your voice has more bass when you normally hear it as opposed to when you watch a video of yourself. The temporal bones directly act on your cochlea, leaving the eardrum out of it altogether.

2 Ways to Get Past This Problem

Now that you understand why your voice sounds different when you hear it through a recording let’s talk about how you can become accustomed to it. Fortunately, you may not need this advice. Most of our video production clients recover from their initial “shock” and simply get back in front of the camera. This isn’t always the case, though, and part of my job is helping people feel comfortable in these videos, I thought I’d share two suggestions I’ve seen work for others.

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

You’ve probably heard that practice makes perfect.

At the very least, practising what you’re going to say in your videos will definitely go a long way toward getting over your nerves. I find that a lot of times, this is what’s at the root of people’s concerns over how they sound. They’re really just nervous about how their social media video will turn out.

You’ll become calmer over time, too. The more videos you make – and the more positive feedback you receive – the easier it will become to speak without any concerns.

2. Just Get Over It

I have been working in the corporate video production world for years, so you can take my word for it when I tell you that the camera doesn’t add anything to your voice (related: it also doesn’t add 10 pounds to your body).

Understanding the physiology behind hearing should better help you understand the psychology of why you may not like how you sound. It should also help you get over it because you now know it’s just an illusion.

There’s an easy way to test this, too. Show the video to someone you trust and ask them for a critique. If they watch the video and you sound different, they’ll tell you. But they won’t because you don’t.

The Most Important Aspect of Your Voice

While I did my best to make a technical subject a little interesting, my hope is that I’ve helped you if you don’t like how you sound behind the camera. Remember, too, that the most important thing about your voice is what you’re using it to say. Fall short with your message, and it won’t matter what you sound like to your community.

If you’d like help perfecting that aspect, contact us today and let’s get started. We’d love to hear from you, no matter what you sound like.

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