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October 25, 2000 Eldorado Edition Page 5

Teacher helps students gain respect changing their voices

For The New Mexican


   Do you have an IQ of 150 but just can't seem to get any respect?
   Eldorado's Sandra McKnight of Voice Power Studios suggests changing your voice. McKnight teaches seminars and workshops nationally to business executives and other professionals who want to improve their ability to communicate and control the impression they make on others.
   She has an impressive client list, including The University of New Mexico, the U. S. Coast Guard, Sprint, Public Service Company of New Mexico and the American Telemarketing Association.
   McKnight explained that success in life depends on how you present yourself through appearance, actions and sound. Your ability to communicate has a profound effect on how others perceive you, she said.
   "It's not just what you say, it's how you say it," McKnight said. "Your voice can convey many things: self-assurance, persuasiveness and trust-worthiness. And those things contribute to one's success in life. For example, if you have a weak or nasal voice, or a tendency to speak too quickly or to mumble, you cannot expect to have the same impact as someone who imparts a clear, confident and authoritative image."
   This was certainly the case in her own experience. A native of Pittsburgh, Penn., McKnight experienced her first taste of rejection while auditioning for an off-Broadway role in New York City.
   "A director told me that I had talent, but my voice was too nasal," she said. "Like most people I didn't realize how I sounded."
   After studying voice at Juilliard in New York, McKnight moved to Los Angeles and spent many years as a successful actress in Hollywood. She appeared in over 200 commercials and made several appearances on various soap operas and television shows. Her most notable role was as Nora Phillips on General Hospital.
   About 14 years ago, McKnight began to sense a decline in roles for women who were no longer in their 20s and 30s. A friend suggested she start a voice class for actors. She expanded her prowess by studying body language and communication and developed a series of seminars and workshops for professionals as well as lay people. Eventually, she broke into the business

Sandra McKnight Voice Power Studios
Jane E. Phillips/The New Mexican  
Sandra McKnight of Voice Power Studios teaches workshops to  
professionals who want to change their speaking voices.  

world, created a business named Your Voice Via the Telephone and began training telemarketers.
   Corporate accounts followed and despite her move to Santa Fe, her business continued to thrive. In New Mexico, her services have been employed by Los Alamos Laboratory, Intel, the New Mexico State Department of Taxation and Revenue, the New Mexico Association of Counties, First National Bank of Santa Fe and Santa Fe Properties.
   "Communication is 55 percent body language, 35 percent voice and only 10 percent words," McKnight said. "When companies are vying for contracts the person who best presents themselves has the leading edge. But the same is true in social situations. You attract others according to what you project."
   McKnight teaches several different workshops. Change your Voice, Change your Life is a popular course scheduled quarterly at the Santa Fe Community College. It includes instruction on articulation: speaking more clearly and distinctly, putting power in your voice, building skills for effective presentations, projecting confidence and a rich, authoritative voice and increasing vocal flexibility and making your voice come alive.
   On Nov. 15, Your Voice is Power in the Business World, another seminar, will be held at the Petroleum Club in Albuquerque. It includes a professional voice analysis, role playing exercises to shape the impression you make, taking control of the non-verbal messages you

send, freeing yourself of vocal anxiety and learning to communicate more effectively.
   On Nov. 16, McKnight will hold a seminar at the Governor's Conference called The Theater of Life, inspired by Shakespeare's analogy, "all the world is a stage, and men and women are merely players." This seminar explains how to create a more dynamic presence in the workplace by using acting and improvisation techniques. McKnight uses costumes and props to demonstrate how people assume different images.
   "Acting gives you tools and teaches you skills," McKnight said. "Just as an actor develops a character on stage, in real life you can learn how to develop your own persona and project the image you want. You can develop a better sense of who you are and how to present yourself more effectively in different circumstances."
   McKnight also teaches Voice Production, a class which educates actors, broadcasters and T.V. personnel on the use and care of their voices. The next course will be held during the Spring semester at the Santa Fe Community College.
   She has also developed a one-woman show called Oops! That's Life! The show consists of a series of comic monologues common to all which she performs in whole or in part at luncheons and dinner events.
   For more information on Voice Power Studios call 466-6500 or visit the Voice Power Web site at www.voicepowerstudios.com.