Fear of yourself and your voice

Public speaking- two words I shudder at the thought of.

Teddy-rised, That Huge Lecture Theatre!, Licensed under Creative Commons. Downloaded from http://www.flickr.com/photos/44742295@N00…on 22nd October 2013.

After giving any presentation throughout my entire education I have always stepped out from the spotlight and had the unusual sensation of having a complete mind-blank!

Well now, with many thanks to Jenny, I was able to relive the experience for myself firsthand on video.

When confronted with this video my first thoughts were of doubt and anxiety.  I was overwhelmed with sensation of butterflies even though I knew what the outcome was.  Safe to say it took multiple days to open the file and consecutive hours of sitting with the file open before I was brave enough to push play.

This got me thinking…why am I so afraid of myself?

After a quick scan through my trusty and knowledgeable friend, Google, I found some interesting ideas about how we perceive ourselves.

Our ideas on how we think others perceive us influence our self concept (our own beliefs about who you are).  Our personalities can also influence what we see and how we react.

– If you are someone who craves approval, you are more likely to believe you made a positive impression on other people.  And according to psychologists, you generally will!

– Narcissism blocks metaperception. Instead of cowering behind ones blanket as they attempt to criticise themselves on video, narcissists have been found to become even more self-bias.

– Shy people tend to believe they come off poorly.  And as the science goes behind this, unfortunately they are probably correct. Psychologists have found that shy people are so busy worrying about what others think they struggle to be spontaneous!

After finally watching my video my next reaction was- I hope that this video is not a true representation of my voice!

Well you can blame your skulls for that!

Our skulls deceive us by lowering the frequency of vibrations from our vocal cords to our cochlea (auditory portion of the inner ear).  This results in us interpreting our voice as deeper than it actually it.

When listening to a recording this bone-conducted pathway is eliminated and we hear what everyone else actually hears in an air-conducted pathway.  So the way you sound on video is actually how everyone else hears you!

Pascal Belin, a professor of psychology at University of Glasgow stated that, “We never actually hear our voice like other people hear it, hence our surprise when hearing a recording.  We find it hard to believe it is actually our voice.”

So I guess this high-pitched 14 year old school girls voice is actually what everyone else hears when I talk.  Great…well at least I have overcome the fear of watching myself on video!

Ben b, I must not fear, Licensed under Creative Commons. Downloaded from http://www.flickr.com/photos/48411990@N00/…on 22nd October 2013


Gaines, J. (2013, April 2).  Why you hate the sound of your own voice. NBC News- Health.  Retrieved from http://t.nbcnews.com/health/why-you-hate-sound-your-own-voice-1C9173488

13 Responses to “Fear of yourself and your voice”

  1. Meagan Lane says:

    @kpenrose Thanks for your comment! Glad wasn’t the only who did that!

  2. kpenrose says:

    I sat for ages in front of the computer looking at the file before watching my presentation too. Watched without sound the first time and with sound the second and didn’t much like the sound of my recorded voice either! Thanks for teaching me why 🙂

  3. Meagan Lane says:

    @crtaylor Thanks for your comment. Interesting point and I know of some actors that either don’t watch their movies at all or when they do they cringe and panic! Some I know of like this include Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman and Johnny Depp. It’s comforting to know that even professionals don’t enjoy watching them selves!

  4. crtaylor says:

    I wonder how professional actors get over this barrier? Surely they couldn’t watch all their movies, head in hands. I remember Cate Blanchett saying that’s how she watched most of her movies and that’s why she enjoyed the stage so much. Really interesting post Meagan, thanks!

  5. Meagan Lane says:

    @Cameron P. I was the same watching mine. I find it so amazing how to ourself we sound weird but to everyone else it seems normal!! I think that is a really valid comment. Watching movies or professional documentaries we feel we are mediocre because we can’t live up to the expectations we place on ourself or that the media and world have provided. We are it seems our own worst enemy and hardest judge. I dunno about you but I was surprised at all the positive comments I received from the other people in my class!

  6. Cameron P says:

    This is really interesting – like everyone else (it seems), I really hate hearing a recording of my own voice. I was cringeing all the way through watching Jenny’s video of myself talking. Wonder how much of it is also influenced by most of the stuff we see recorded on video being of professional actors, so we may also have an unrealistic standard to compare ourselves to.

  7. Meagan Lane says:

    Glad you were able to learn something new about this like I was 🙂

  8. rashikap says:

    Interesting post! I always use to wonder why is my voice so different in recordings. Now I got the answer.. Thanks for sharing…

  9. Shawn Tan says:

    Btw, love the Dune reference at the end 🙂

  10. Meagan Lane says:

    @Shawn Tan Thank you for reading my post and commenting! That is a very interesting idea and I’m not exactly sure! Not much of a psychologist but I do think it is a fascinating topic of discussion.

  11. Shawn Tan says:

    Cool post, like the stuff about self perception. Do wonder how self-enhancement and how extroversion/introversion plays into this.

  12. Meagan Lane says:

    @Tahlia Thanks for your comment. I never knew why my voice always sounded so different on recording so I looked it up, so was a new discovery for me too!

  13. Tahlia says:

    Haha. I hate hearing myself on recording, like everyone I’m sure! Interesting to know it is bone that is causing the difference, I never knew exactly what it was 🙂