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In this episode of The Inner Chief podcast, I speak to Roger Love.
Roger is recognised as indisputably the #1 voice coach in the world.
He coaches singers such as John Mayer and Selena Gomez, as well as speakers like Tony Robbins, and actors including Reese Witherspoon, Zoe Saldana, Keira Knightley, and Bradley Cooper.
Amazingly, by the time he was 16, Roger became the voice coach for the Beach Boys, Chicago, The Jackson 5, and Earth, Wind and Fire.
Roger has vocally produced more than 150 million unit sales worldwide and written three top-selling books.
In this episode we talk about:
- Why your most powerful communication tool is your voice, and how it can be effectively utilised to be your best perceived version of you
- How to overcome your fear of public speaking by understanding and correcting the components of your voice
- What leaders can do to ensure they land a message with their people, and
- Saving the world from the threat to communication that has been caused by AI.
- Roger also gives me a Voice Coaching lesson during the podcast!
Thanks to former guest, Jay Abraham, for introducing me to Roger.
Connecting with Roger Love
Books and resources
“People believe that the voice they have is the voice they were born with, and it's not true. They were born with an instrument and they have to learn how to play it.”
On how he became a voice coach
- When I was 16 and a half, I was already the voice coach for the Beach Boys and the Jacksons and Earth, Wind and Fire and groups like Chicago.
- My job back then was to make sure that they could hit all the notes, that they could sing every night, that they could sell T-shirts, that they could sell records back when there were records, that they would sell out concerts. And for 17 years, all I did was teach singers how to be better singers. And somewhere along that journey, speakers started coming to me, people like Tony Robbins and actors, very famous actors. And they asked me to start working on their speaking voice.
- And then eventually I realized that those speakers, like Tony Robbins and the other people that were coming to me, they were opening up their mouths and they were influencing millions of people. And so I started saying yes. And I took everything that I knew about being a great singing coach. And I had learned how to get people on stage so that they opened up their mouths and they influenced millions of people physically and emotionally.
- A voice coach was somebody who helped make great voices. And I realised that me as a voice coach is somebody who uses voice to help make great people.
- Voice is the most powerful communication tool that you have. And there's a problem because the number one fear in pretty much the entire world is speaking in public.
On the fear of public speaking
- It's because we are afraid of being judged harshly. And when we open up our mouths and we say things, people make value judgments about us.
- In the first few seconds, people have already decided based on the sounds of your voice, whether they like you, whether they trust you, whether they believe you, and whether they want to hear you say, anymore. So if we know that there's only seconds to make a first impression, we have to focus on the voice and make the sounds, we have to get the sounds out of our mouths that create the perception of us, we want people to feel.
- What do I work on? Showing people the right sounds that should come out of their mouths so they're perceived as being exactly the best of who they are. Whatever the best of you that you wanna showcase, it has to come out of your voice for it to be perceived.
On the neuroscience behind your voice
- When you speak to me your sound goes into my ears and the first part of the brain that it goes to is called the amygdala and the language of the amygdala is emotion because the brain processes and then if it thinks it's emotional, logic. So the brain doesn't think words have emotion. So when you speak to me and my amygdala hears what you say, it decides if it's emotional.
- Then it passes that right onto the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that decides, that processes it, that connects it to feelings, emotions, takes action on it. So if you're just using words, you're not even moving people emotionally because it's not going far enough into the brain.
- When I'm speaking to you, all of those words are going into your brain into what I call the gather box. It's just trying to gather the words, trying to remember the words. It's not processing the words. It's trying to gather the words.
- And then when you get to a comma and you're silent, then the gather box sends the information to the process box.
On pitch, melody and dialects
- There are 5 elements of a voice: pitch, pace, tone, melody, and volume.
- Pitch: how high or low are you? You just show great energy, you're just high all the time, you pitch it up high all the time, hi, I'm so happy to be with you. Do people perceive me to be a better CEO if I'm down here all the time? Will they believe me? Do they think that I have more power in this situation? So where am I in the range?
- Melody: the brain is listening for melody in the same way that you listen to the radio and you're like, I really like that song. I like that or that song is, it doesn't move me at all. You're either using three major melodies. One of them is you're speaking on the same note the whole time. Is it descending scales? So are you using descending melodies because the brain perceives those to be, you're sad. Are you trying to make me sad? Or are you using ascending melodies, which make you sound happy, make other people perceive happy emotions?
- All regionalisms, all dialects, they're still operating on pitch, pace, tone, melody, and volume. So aside from the words, the way one voice sounds different than another voice is they alter the pitch, pace, tone, melody, and volume. Yes, there are differences as you move from one region to the next. And some of those regionalisms are perceived as being good, attached to good traits that you might want to be attached to, and some of them are attached to negative traits.
- Everyone in the world actually fits into about five different voice types based on pitch, pace, tone, melody and volume. So everyone doesn't sound the same, but everyone in the world gravitates to five types of vocal sounds that they mostly sound like.
On seeing your voice as an instrument
- But the number one reason is people come because they're losing their voice. The number one reason they should come is because people believe that the voice they have was the voice they were born with. And it's not true. They were born with an instrument and you have to learn how to play it.
- I'm an instrument builder. People come into me with their instruments, but they are not using their instruments to their greatest ability. They're the CEO of that company, but they're really not great at communicating. They're very good at making people understand when they're angry, but the rest of the emotions, none of the employees can figure out. I train people how to tune their voice like it was an instrument so that they can achieve the outcomes that they want from every communication that they get into. That's the misconception. You're not born with a voice, you're born with an instrument. You're just imitating people. So you imitate the people that you grew up listening to and suddenly you're an adult and you sound like they do, but you never ever realized that you could create your own voice.
On what executives can do to improve their speaking
- You have to give your audience process time in your conversation. You have to move them emotionally and then you have to give them the time to feel things. So more commas, more silent spots, more ascending melodies.
- The ascending melody still make it easier to hear. You still feel like there's hope in the room. They need to use more ascending scales. They need to take longer, silent spots at commas and periods. Executives think they're getting paid by the word to talk to their teams. They're not getting paid by the word. They're getting paid by the emotion that they create because changing emotion changes actions. So they need to spend more time silent.
- The reason you, as a CEO, that you may not be connecting to people is because you're not moving them emotionally. Did you know that people only process what you say in the silent parts of your conversation?
- Another problem that CEOs get into is that they don't understand volume. The society now says that volume must be angry. That the louder you are, the angrier you are. And there's, God knows there's enough anger in the world every day. So we're afraid of volume. We're afraid if we sound loud, that people will think we're angry at them, that we're shouting at them.
- So more volume, actually, more melody, ascending scales, and more silence at commas and periods.
On running one-to-ones with staff
- It is absolutely your job of giving feedback is to create a feeling in the room of hope that actually starts with happy and grateful.
- They're going through this whole what I call getting to the stage fright. They made themselves so nervous before they even walked into the situation. The emotion you start with are the sounds of happy, ascending scales, lots of volume, higher pitch.
- So it literally all feedback sessions need to start from the leader being happy and showcasing gratitude, gratitude for something, gratitude that they came, gratitude that they're open for a discussion, gratitude that… find something to be grateful about.
- Then you move into discussing whatever you want to discuss. Totally honest, not sugarcoating it. But the sounds of happy and grateful help actually make it land on the person as that they're not feeling it's all negative.
On why being tone deaf is a myth
- Tone deaf people can't hear any tones. Most people, less than 2% of the population in the entire world is tone deaf. And it happens from some damage to the middle ear when they're very young. So that didn't happen to anyone that's listening. God forbid it did, but it probably didn't happen to anybody who's listening to this podcast. You're not tone deaf. You just don't know how to make your voice go to the pitches you want to go to because you don't have any good technique.
- I train people's ears as much as I train their voice because I really can't train their voice until I train them how to hear.
- Okay, so we expect people to be emotionally intelligent and we look for that, but what's the training process of being emotionally intelligent? There isn't one. There's actually never been a system that teaches emotional intelligence. Here's what I say. I'm the missing piece to…to emotional intelligence, because here's what emotional intelligence really is. I'm able to make the sounds, sounds and words that come out of my mouth, that showcase to you how I authentically feel. And I'm able to listen to the sounds and words that come out of your mouth, and I decide whether that's true or not, whether it's authentic. So unless you know the sounds of all the emotions, even the four major emotions, unless you know those sounds how can you actually accurately judge whether or not people are telling the truth? If I don't understand sound, I'm just going by words and words lie and facial expressions lie.
- Though I'm bleeding all over the carpeting. So words lie, facial expressions lie. What's true? Sounds of the voice, pitch, pace, tone, melody, and volume. That tells you. That makes you emotionally intelligent.
On the secret to correct breathing
- I'm going to tell you something about diaphragmatic breathing that you don't know, that's gonna make you an infinitely greater speaker, presenter, person, and healthier and happier. But I'm gonna give you a secret that nobody's ever told you before.
- There's two things that happen when you do diaphragmatic breathing that actually make you sound better. The first thing is when most people breathe and they're not doing diaphragmatic breathing, they're breathing into their mouths. And when they breathe in through their mouths, they raise their chest and shoulders. That's called accessory breathing, because these are the accessory muscles. And when you raise your chest and shoulders, that's called accessory breathing. That's the way to get the least amount of air into the body and have the least control of how air comes out.
- So I want to do diaphragmatic breathing because breathing in through the mouth makes your voice, your throat, and your vocal cords super dry. Take a big breath in like that with sound. Breathe in. Feel the dryness in the back part of the throat. Now close your lips and breathe in through your nose. Zero dryness. Why? Because there are filters in the nose called terminates. And when air goes in through the nose, it becomes moist so that when it goes to the voice, to the vocal cords, to the throat, it doesn't dry it all out. So if you just breathe more into your nose the way you're supposed to, your voice would last longer. You wouldn't have a dry throat. You wouldn't have so much phlegm problem.
- When you breathe in through your nose, you're supposed to pretend that you have a balloon in your tummy. This does not make you look fat. It's just, tummy comes out a tiniest bit, this much. Out a little, and then when you speak, you're only supposed to speak while your stomach comes in. You're supposed to breathe in through your nose, fill up the pretend balloon in your tummy.
- and then only speak while your stomach is coming in. Most people don't do that. They're holding their breath stationary. They're holding their tummy stationary. But when I speak like this and my stomach doesn't move, it sounds like I'm asphyxiated, like there's no air.
- So the reason I want diaphragmatic breathing is to get moist vocal cords is to have control over how air comes back out by only speaking while my tummy is coming in.
- The secret is you're only supposed to speak while your stomach is coming in. That's the thing that nobody's told you. You're only ever supposed to speak or sing while your stomach is coming in. If your stomach's not coming in while you're speaking or singing, you'll never sound as good as you could.
On the threat of AI on communication
- So what I'm most excited about literally right now is trying to save the world because AI and machines have entered into the voice space. And it's actually has the potential of people doing even less speaking. So the more AI speaks for us, the less humans speak. And what I saw that humans were already losing their ability to speak beautifully and emotionally, most of them, because of the fears involved speaking and because of emails and texts and electronics that already existed because of the internet.
- So already the ability to be great communicators, humankind, is already diminished so greatly. And I could see that. And I could see humans who are not great speakers anymore teaching machines how to speak. And then humans sound like machines and machines sound like machines. And then we've lost the ability to communicate emotionally. So actually what I'm spending a lot of time doing is I'm working in that space to make sure that humans don't lose the ability to be human.
On controlling airflow when speaking
- Here's why you lose your voice. Great speaking happens and healthy speaking happens when the right amount of air comes out of the lungs and goes to the vocal cords and the vocal cords are in the right position to accept that air. Your ratio of air and vocal cord is off. You have more air than cord. So you're speaking with a little bit extra air all the time.
- So you need to change the ratio of air. First of all, you need to take a breath because you were breathing into your mouth and now you've got to breathe into your nose and you got to pretend you have a balloon in your tummy.
On companies having a ‘voice’
- Most companies create what's called a voice and brand and style guide. And they show it to new employees, new team members when they come in, here's the voice and brand of our company so that you get to know the company. There's a problem with the voice and style guides. There's no sound attached to it. There's no voice. So for years, I've been going into companies and attaching an actual voice, sounds, to their brand.
- I change the communication system in corporations so that the voice is cohesive and when it’s delivered internally, it creates productivity. And when it's sent externally to the customers, customers know who that company is, what that company is, why that company is, by actually showing people what are the sounds that people should be making from the top down.
- That's why the companies I work with are number one in their fields because they're able to create a brand and use voice to establish the uniqueness of that brand.
Final message of wisdom and hope for future leaders
- You create your own hope, you create your own future by creating, finding joy in every moment of the present. You can create anything by creating joy, happiness, and gratitude from moment by moment. Then anything's possible. Then the journey to get where you want to go is filled with joy and gratitude, happiness and gratitude. And no matter how long it takes you to get where you get, well, you enjoy it every day because it was filled with joy and gratitude.
- You know, they say that the wealthiest individual is someone whose pleasures are the least expensive.
- The best CEOs don't talk about what it's like to be on the top, they talk about the journey that got them there. They talk about the obstacles that they overcame because that's the stuff that they look back on and think, how did I do it? And that it was amazing that happened. And it was so incredible that I lived through this. And they looked to talk about the journey.
- So my advice to CEOs is to focus on the journey, enjoy the journey, celebrate daily wins. That's how you get successful at the end. And create a voice that showcases the best of you instead of a voice that hides you from everyone that you speak to.
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