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Voice, Gender, Power, and Professionalism

Table XI
Event organized by Table XI

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"You don’t sound authoritative.”

“You need to project more or clients won’t take you seriously.”

“You’re too soft-spoken.”

Western professional culture has many spoken and unspoken norms around what “confident” and “competent” sounds like. How does this impact speakers who don’t naturally fit that mold? Should you change the way you speak--if so, how much, and how do you even do that?

Increasing attention is being paid to how we use our voices in the workplace. Voice and speaking style are a potential diversity issue: is it discriminatory to harp on a person’s use of vocal fry or “uptalk”? The reality is that the world at large, including clients, vendors, audiences, and individuals, do judge speakers based on the way they talk. A person’s vocal affect can be a major factor contributing to unconscious bias.

As an individual, what do you do (what should you do?) if you have a stigmatized voice? Own it, change it, both, neither? As a manager or employer, how can you (should you) address vocal patterns with your team members? Where’s the line between support and discrimination?

This interactive workshop, facilitated by two speech-language pathologists specializing in voice and professional communication, delves into all these tricky questions, and more. Participants will learn about the technical and social aspects of voice production, everything from acoustic science to cultural implications regarding intonation and body language.

Participants will be guided through a series of fun voice exercises and tasks, learning how they can modify their own vocal styles for different types of impact. (Be prepared to make some silly sounds.) You’ll learn how to identify the many separate components of your own speaking style, enabling you to subtly flex your style and better understand the contributing factors to the styles of those around you. You’ll develop a vocabulary for talking about communication diversity in an open, productive, non-judgmental way that fosters inclusivity and empathy.

Questions are a major part of this workshop! Discussion and exercises will be facilitated, but you are absolutely encouraged to pepper the clinical presenters with questions and share your own personal experience with voice in the workplace.

Whether you manage a team, or are a new employee trying to find your place, this workshop will help you understand the way you speak, the way others speak, and how to apply that knowledge to support yourself and others in successful communication.

After the hands-on workshop, our company chef will prepare a homemade dinner so you can mingle with our team and our facilitators to ask questions about building an inclusive culture.

Event Schedule
3-6 PM: Hands-on workshop
6-7 PM: Dinner and Q&A


Table XI