Monday, December 1, 2008

Channeling Diane Sawyer

I never liked the sound of my voice. I hadn't paid much attention to it until I heard it on a recorder when I was in first grade. That was not what I wanted to sound like, and I became self conscious about it. I secretly wanted to sound like my friend Zelma. The teacher selected her to be the narrator for a skit we were doing in second grade.

Then in high school I tried out for Radio Workshop at school. I selected James Weldon Johnson's "The Creation" for the piece I recorded. I didn't get selected, but my friend Alva was. The teacher called me in to explain why I didn't get in. She played my recording and I sounded tentative. I didn't like my voice. I got through high school, college, and into my career without having to present anything until a mentor pushed me into Presentation Skills training. UGH!!

Somewhere along the line I discovered that if I had a whiz-bang technical presentation with all the critical information that my audience wanted, nice bullet points, nobody cared about my lack-luster voice. My audience was attentive, I got applause. I still didn't like my voice.

When I published my memoir, I forgot that somewhere along the line I would have to read some of it aloud...*groan.*

So far I have gotten by with small groups. I do cozy conversation pretty well. As a matter of fact when I have been called upon to speak, (my church-lady thing) I do the cozy conversation to the big group, and I can get by. A joke and a song, and nobody notices the creaky voice.

I've heard poets and authors do readings. Some sound like me, and will put an audience to sleep. Some shout their prose like a preacher, putting the fear of God in the audience. Some have that lovely cadence and pitch.

I decided that I'll strive for Diane Sawyer. We're about the same age, have the same kind of alto, the trace of Southern accent. I want her cadence, the way she lifts the ends of sentences without sounding like a valley-girl.

Maybe I'll just keep it short, before anybody falls asleep.


Anonymous said...

I've gone through this same dilemma. Except I don't just have a trace of a Southern accent. When I started doing book readings I was really self-conscious.

All I could think of was 'folks are not going to believe that I wrote anything sounding like I do.' Finally somebody (that loved me and knew where my heart was) told me to just 'get over it.' Eventually, I did.

I'm striving more for Ms. Angelou, btw.

saraphen said...

@Linda...Thanks for the comment. I think Maya never lost her Southern accent. ;)

Cherished said...

I came over here thinking I was clicking into a Facebook note link...*Confused*


I have never liked my voice either. It is deep like yours. I do think however when you read from your book it will be pleasant to any listeners..:).

p.s. I tried to add you as a friend over here but I don't know how...going back to Facebook..smh!