When it comes to having an authentic, gender-affirming voice, it’s not necessarily about how you start your sentence, it’s how you finish it. Specifically, it’s about whether you keep the intonation, flow, and energy up at the end of your statement, or if you drop down abruptly.
To explain, a typical masculine intonation pattern has the voice dropping down rather suddenly and in a “chopped-off” staccato fashion at the end of the sentence. The words are short, not extended.
So, if you want to masculinize the sound of your voice, then try dropping your intonation and rhythm abruptly when you end your sentence. But what if you want to feminize your speaking voice?
A more feminine style of speaking would be to lift up the end of the sentence, keeping your voice energized, stretched out, and more expressive.
The voice sweeps up more expressively on the last word than with the masculine pattern. It then drops down, as the end of a statement normally would, but using an extended, energized ending, not an abrupt or sudden drop. And to sound feminine, don’t drop so much at the end that your voice gets throaty or sounds like vocal “fry” (that gravelly low-energy sound you’ve heard so much about in the media). Watch our YouTube short video to hear these gender-affirming vocal differences in action.
So to summarize, to masculinize your speaking, drop down abruptly at the end of a sentence. To feminize your speaking, lift your voice up more expressively and in a more extended fashion at the end of a sentence.
Please Note: This is not to say that every cis-female uses expressive endings, and every cis-male drops off abruptly. These are just generalizations. Voices and communication style can vary widely, depending on mood, level of voice training, professional voice use, personality, level of fatigue, etc. The concepts we present are just starting points, and should always be modified to fit the particular needs and wishes of the individual.
Of course, the way you end a sentence is only one “ingredient” in the “recipe” to create a gender-affirming voice and communication pattern. We also work on resonance or tone placement, pitch, choice of vocabulary, articulation of speech sounds, gesture, facial expression and mouth shape (see our YouTube short on this last concept, the “Mona Lisa smile” mouth shape here:
We teach all of these voice “ingredients” at our center. But let’s master one effective ingredient at a time, then begin to combine them, until your voice is just the way you’ve always wanted it to be. Keep watching our YouTube channel, @VoiceCareWithKaren, for more voice care and training tips. And remember, consistent practice of any voice skill is the key to vocal success. So let’s get “cooking” and find that authentic Choice Voice!