I May Not Look So Good, But I Sound Marvelous

Can’t Stand Me

What do you find more unbearable: watching a video of yourself, or listening to a recording of your voice? Why?

Years ago I spoke before a large audience. I rehearsed my talk no less than 15 times. I even rehearsed in front of a mirror.

During and after the talk I knew I did well. I received a lot of positive comments and feedback.

A friend recorded it and I was eager to listen. I listened to it in a private setting. After a minute I stopped listening; I had enough. It was terrible.

Several months later I recorded a friend’s presentation in front of a large crowd. He is a flawless communicator. I listened to it later. It was flawless.

He asked me for the recording so he could self-analyze it. Later we talked. He said he couldn’t stand listening to it and was embarrassed at the quality.

I think this all comes down to expectations and reality.

We see each other in front of a mirror all the time. When we see each other on a video there is little unrealized expectation. I practiced my talk in front of a mirror, but never recorded the rehearsal sessions. I was completely aware of what I looked like. I thought I knew how I sounded (James Earl Jones or Patrick Stewart).

Frankly, I sounded more like Bruce Dern or the male version of Kristen Chenoweth, a real nasal quality.

I suppose if we heard ourselves the way we really sound, instead of from within our heads, we might just talk less. Even though I likely still sound like Bruce Dern and Kristen Chenoweth, I live with the illusion I’m James Earl Jones or Patrick Stewart. Listen to this: “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot.” Pretty good, heh!”

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8 comments

    • If people commend you for speaking you should leave it be. Yet, it is always good to listen to those who are interested in you succeeding. They can provide needed criticism.

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